Sometimes creating opportunity is about looking beyond what you’ve been asked to do and saying what else you could do.
Last year, the fence in my back garden finally gave up the ghost and being a firm believer in outsourcing, I hired a gardener to put up a new one for me.
He arrived early one morning and by mid-afternoon I had a lovely new fence. He’d done a great job; quick, efficient, and exactly what I’d asked him.
While we were standing admiring the new fence over our final cup of hot sweet tea, he said “I couldn’t help but notice that horrible pile of logs at the side of the house.” I explained that the logs were for the new wood burner stove and the totally unstructured heap was due to not having some way of stacking them properly. He said, “well I could make you a wood store with sides and a cover. You’ll be able to stack the logs easily and they’ll keep drier and burn better. I could do it before I leave today”. Of course, I jumped at the chance and by the end of the afternoon I not only had a new fence but also a log store with a neat and tidy stack of logs.
My gardener made more money than he’d expected, saved himself the time and cost of disposing of the leftovers from the original job (he used the delivery pallets and off-cuts of the fence panels), and now has a delighted customer who recommends him to everyone.
Having spent years helping account managers sell more to their clients, all too often I was confronted with a lack of understanding about their client’s problems or a fear of offering something different. Yet my gardener, with absolutely no sales training, saw a problem he could solve, volunteered a solution and turned a happy customer to an advocate whilst making more money. One of the best ways of creating a deeper relationship with your customer is to look beyond the job you’ve been asked to do and point out the other ways in which you can help them. Always keep your eyes and ears open for problems you can solve and be proactive with offers of well intentioned solutions.
Which of your client’s problems could you solve but haven’t told them yet? Stop waiting to be asked…