Desperate for business?

by Charlie Lawson on January 28, 2013 · 0 comments

Construction DealI heard a fascinating story the other day.  At a dinner party, I met a friend of a friend who ran a decorating business.  His frustration was obvious as he was enduring a slow start to 2013 – the phone had just stopped ringing.

I asked him what he was doing to promote his business – he’d printed several thousand leaflets and dropped them through letterboxes all around his local area.

I asked him how many calls he’d received – from all that effort, he’d received just one call to quote!  However, as it happened, that one call had been for what would be a very good job – repainting an entire 5 bedroom house.  

As you can imagine, he was desperate to get the work – and when the client called back to discuss his quote, they told him that they’d ruled out 4 other companies – he was in a shortlist of two.  They told him they would think about it over the weekend, and call back on Monday.

He told me he spent a nerve-wracking weekend waiting – but was very confident about winning the pitch.  He’d been super-professional, arrived early, provided guarantees about the quality of his work, was available to start immediately, and the clincher in his mind – he personally was an expert in painting ornamental fireplaces (of which there were two in the house).

I have to say I very much identified with the decorator: we’ve all been in situations like this – perhaps pitching for work, perhaps going for a job – and we know that we’re the right person.  We just KNOW it.

Monday morning came, and the client phoned.  They’d decided to choose the other company!  The decorator, despite being massively disappointed, did what every good business should do in this situation – asked for feedback from the client.

‘Was I professional – do you think I could have done the job?’  Absolutely, came the reply.

‘Was I competitive on price?’  Definitely – in fact, his quote had been cheaper than the other company.

‘Well then why didn’t I get the job?’  Because the other company came from a referral.

From all points of view, referral business is better than that gained through other means.  For the business, referrals tend to be easier to close, have fewer objections, and provides customers with a stronger sense of loyalty that remain clients longer.  For the referrer – they increase their credibility with both the end user and the business.  For the end user – the trust element is crucial.  Why take a risk?

Charlie Lawson
Charlie Lawson – BNI National Director and Word of Mouth marketing expert, whose passion is to see BNI members succeed in their businesses.

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