In the past five months I have shared what networking really is and how it can change your business and life forever. I have shared how you should dress and how to attract successful clients and employees.
Isn’t it amazing, then, that I have not yet shared what to actually say about your company when networking? Here’s why I have waited until now:
If you do not understand what networking is and how to do it properly, it doesn’t matter what you say!
When you go to a networking group here’s what typically happens. Someone stands up to introduce herself, let’s say a CPA. It goes something like this: “Hi, I’m Sue Smith with 1,2,3 Accounting Firm and we do taxes. We do all kinds of bookkeeping, tax returns, blah, blah, blah, we help small businesses as well as large businesses, and can help even if you’re thinking about starting a business – everything from soup to nuts. Give me a call.”
If you didn’t find anything wrong with that introduction, you need some help. One of the first things you learn in marketing (which is what you are doing when you are networking) is to define your unique target market (UTM) and develop your unique selling proposition (USP).
I have taken it a step further: I call it my “UEP” or Unique Experience Proposition. We are offering an experience; not just a product, not just a service.
So, are you making the same mistake as the CPA? My guess is you are. If you go to any kind of meetings at all, you are probably getting up and saying something like, “Hi I’m Bob with Bob’s Carpet Cleaning. I do carpet cleaning, upholstery cleaning, tile cleaning. We do residential carpet cleaning, commercial cleaning – we can even clean your boats and your cars, so whatever you need cleaned, just give us a call.”
Here’s what didn’t get answered in your introduction that should have:
- “Why should I use you over anyone else?
- “Why should I pay you more than anyone else?”
- “How do I know that I can trust you?”
- “How can I know that you know what you are doing?”
My primary target market is high-end residential. These are homeowners who, regardless of their income level, value their indoor environment at the highest level. I call them “Mercedes Clients,” which I got from a guy by the name of Vern Wingert many moons ago. Vern has a very-high-end carpet cleaning business in Arizona. In a seminar, he illustrated the difference between Mercedes Clients and Saturn and Kia customers. You could illustrate this using restaurants, hotels, whatever.
Here’s how I introduce myself (Note: the script that follows is copyrighted; please create one that best suits your company). I open with a question:
“How many of you have gotten a coupon in the mail that says something like ‘3 Rooms for $39.95’”?
The audience raises their hands.
“And a guy that looks a little like Charles Manson shows up…”
They may drop their forks, but I definitely have their attention!
“…and he charges you a thousand dollars and he does a lousy job on top of it. We help you avoid all of that by providing you with the most outstanding service experience you have ever received, guaranteed or your money back.”Your Five-Point Marketing Message
My experience in training has taught me that there are five areas that are important to high-end clients:
“We are referred by the area’s most seasoned floor covering professionals, interior designers and Realtors. We have been featured on Channel 11, in the Houston Business Journal, and are exclusively recommended by Home Improvement Expert Tom Tynan as well as Houston’s most prominent citizens and celebrities. We have been in business for over 23 years and are experienced in all types of carpets, rugs, fabrics, and floors and the most difficult soiling conditions that baffle other cleaners. We hold multiple certifications by the IICRC, that’s the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, the world’s most recognized body for certifying carpet and upholstery cleaners. We offer the most advanced cleaning technology that gets maximum soil and spot removal without over-wetting the carpet or leaving a sticky residue behind. We will show up on time and treat you, your family and home with the utmost of care, and finally, we offer a 100% money back guarantee. If you aren’t thrilled with the service experience you receive from us, we will rush back to your location to remedy the situation. If you are still unimpressed you owe us nothing and you get a 100% refund. That’s just how we do business.”
- Reputation (Trust)
- Experience (You know what you are doing)
- Education (Training – you’re not going to be sending “Bubba”)
- Systems (they want to know that your cleaning systems will do a thorough job without harming their carpets. Also includes customer-service systems.)
- Guarantee (high-end clients rarely do business with people who don’t offer a guarantee. Even if it isn’t printed, it’s assumed. But it is better to share that you offer it. This is called “risk reversal.”)
Now, that sounds like a lot and it is. You are saying a lot, but once you memorize your script (yes, I said memorize) and you get good at it, you can do it in just a couple of minutes and make it sound very natural. Will people remember everything you said? No. But that’s okay, because you said the right things and they will feel like you are the right choice if they are a high-end client.
It’s important to remember that you never share this much until you have already built rapport, listened emphatically to them, and done all of the things I shared with you during the last five months.
Drive it Home: The Free Trial
“Actually, what I would like to do is simply do a complimentary cleaning for you so you can see how we do. We will clean one room for you, how does that sound?”
They respond in the affirmative, so…
“Great. When would be a good time to do that for you?”
The reason the free trial is so important? People go home from a networking event with piles of cards and literature. You want them to go home with an appointment! With you! If they say “no” to the free trial, say, “No problem. How about if we get together for a cup of coffee to see how we can help each other? The coffee is on me.”
I hope you can see how introducing yourself and your company properly can set you apart from other cleaners, making you the obvious choice.