It was a crisp, bright spring morning as you arrived at your office prepared for your 9AM meeting.
Today was different. Stepping from your car, you turn toward the office and stop. Stock still. For an instant, you wonder if this is one of those vivid dreams, and you’re still at home asleep.
Just there, snoring, 20 feet away from you, just beside the entrance to your office, is an elephant. Fast asleep. Empty packet of peanuts at its feet.
Incongruence is a word we don’t often use. But today’s a good day to get the dictionary out and look that one up.
A dozen things go through your mind. Why? How? What shall I do? Who do I call? Before the next thought, the immediacy of your 9AM meeting.
Can you sneak past? Get into the office, and ask somebody to make whatever call it is you make when there is a snoring elephant outside your office?
That’s what you do.
Anyway, the meeting goes well. There’s no elephant when you leave that day. Those folks on reception must have made the right call.
The Next Day. You arrive. This time you hear the snoring before you notice the elephant is back. In exactly the same place. You’re just as puzzled as the day before. The same questions pop into your head, but faster this time.
Your 9AM meeting awaits. Today, you sidle around the elephant a tad more briskly than the day before – straight to reception to pass the buck.
It’s hometime, and it’s not there as you walk to your car.
Day 3. It’s back. You shrug and head off once more to reception as you side-step it for your 9AM.
Day 7. You barely notice the snoring. It’s part of the background noise now.
Day 12. You know it’s still there, but hardly notice it, flicking through the messages on your phone as you breeze past. Today, you don’t even mention it to those helpful souls on reception.
But The Elephant Is Still There, Albeit Forgotten
The elephant is an analogy for a universal truth in business.
Elephants are pretty big. They take a bit of shifting. And nobody really knows how to deal with an elephant. And a persistently snoring one at that.
Word of mouth is the equivalent of the snoring elephant you learn to ignore. It’s something you don’t think you can do anything about. The snoring blends into background noise.
Instead of shifting it, why not wake it up? Word of mouth is glaringly obvious as the top influence on purchasing decisions as regulars to this site have seen in the various surveys which prove it.
Recommended Prospects Say ‘Yes’ Faster, And Seldom Batter Down Your Prices
You know this already, but it’s worth repeating so that elephant you’ve learnt to ignore comes sharply back into focus.
You recommend stuff. People you know recommend stuff. Have you ever seen a movie or tuned into a Netflix series after a friend’s recommendation?
Eaten at a restaurant someone you know raves about?
Clients who come to you recommended quibble far less over price. Because their objections are already overcome. And they’ve usually already decided to buy, so it’s a super-quick ‘yes’.
The Solution? Modestly Bottle The Elephant
You don’t need to get rid of the elephant. But neither should you ignore it. Instead, bottle it. Then release it to win more sales.
The word-of-mouth elephant is your friend when pointed in the right direction.
Your great work making your clients happy deserves recognition. This is your forgotten elephant.
But do it without boasting. After all:
He who speaks without modesty, will make it difficult to make his words good
Damned modesty gets in the way of you getting the pats on the back (and extra sales) that you truly deserve. Right?
But this goes against the advice of my old colleague Steve, who quotes another scholar:
If you don’t blow your own trumpet, nobody else will
And that’s the problem every business faces. Everything you say to customers is biased. You are blowing your own trumpet without a shred of modesty.
So why do you do it? Mostly, to turn prospects into customers. And customers are the solution to this puzzle.
If they say it, you are back to being modest, quietly accepting the applause without asking for it. Your customer does the trumpet blowing for you.
But there’s an incredibly simple reason why you should have customers sing your praises. It helps you win more business.
Especially in proposals to new clients. Reduce the bias of your own words. Replace them with those of your clients.
And bam! More sales.
You Lose Your Modesty When YOU Ask Your Clients To Sing Your Praises
It’s harder when you ask. And anyway, clients omit the best bits without an expert sniffing them out.
Don’t ask yourself. Hire Social Proof to do it for you. You simply email clients for permission and we call them for you.
Say “would you speak to my PR guy for an article he’s writing?”. Virtually all of them will because people like sharing good experiences.
I was asked why this works in an interview recently. I said:
“Clients open up to me – far more than they do to you. Because I’m a third-party, there’s no modesty challenges when I ask how wonderful you are at the various things you do.”
The right questions are posed; using Maslow’s famous studies on basic human motivations to perfectly capture the essence of good word-of-mouth.
In other words, a story that truly resonates with the ultimate reader – the prospect pondering your proposal.
Your Sales Will Rocket With A Portfolio Of Vivid, Jump-Off-The-Page Client Stories
Stop the waste. What waste? All those clients who receive a proposal, and quickly vanish without as much as a polite “no”.
Instead, convert many more of them into a “yes” with a portfolio that delivers word-of-mouth with impact, consistently, every single time.
How? Very simple. For every product and client type you have, add a story into your portfolio. And then, respond to each enquiry with one or more stories that match the client and product you are about to pitch.
Would you quite like a portfolio of word-of-mouth dynamite your rivals will envy? And all the extra sales you may otherwise have lost?
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