As a non-traditional business owner, I’ve struggled with my desire to serve versus my need to generate business. Many years ago I was a young entrepreneur with a vision for my company to simply be the best at what we do: build and market web initiatives with a real, measurable return on investment. We focused our efforts purely on knowing all of the answers – best tactics, newest technologies, etc. We learned quickly that being the best doesn’t pay the bills if no one knows you exist.
It always frustrated me that my competitors would win business because of the relationships they had with the clients. In many cases, the chosen vendor wasn’t nearly as qualified as we were and their costs were much higher. Being the best didn’t really matter. Instead, the work went to those who had strong sales teams with robust advertising and marketing budgets. In other words, the big guys bought brand awareness and relationships. I had been spinning my wheels by caring more about the quality of our offerings rather than selling our capabilities.
In about 2006, I decided to take a different approach. I enrolled myself in a sales training program – a David Sandler affiliate – and learned how to build relationships, uncover pain, and earn trust and respect. This was a very important step for me and the business. I began attending networking events of all kinds nearly twice a week. I met hundreds of people and began generating referrals. Business grew rapidly but I still had a problem. I seemed to be the only one on my team who could properly articulate our value proposition. I hired and tried many folks for sales roles, but the desired results were never achieved.
I was no longer heavily focused on strategy or fulfillment and had a great support team for these services, but I couldn’t seem to delegate or share the new business responsibilities. I soon reached my maximum capacity and growth stalled.
It wasn’t until mid 2008 that I realized something new was happening. I learned that sharing your expertise and opinions with groups of people made a big difference. My company began hosting seminars to educate attendees on the value of Internet marketing. This was not a sales pitch; it was purely educational. I found that I really enjoyed this and that the attendees truly appreciated what we had to offer.
We continued by taking this communication online and involving the whole team. In no time, we had friends and prospects reading our blog posts, following us on twitter, and more. We became recognized as thought leaders in the region for web development and marketing services.
Since this online transition, we no longer attend as many in-person networking events. The opportunities in our sales funnel are greater than ever and the phone just keeps ringing. We utilize many digital marketing techniques to share our knowledge and ideas with others. We leverage content marketing and social media tactics heavily. We can focus again on what is most important – providing our clients with the best possible opportunities for creating a return on their Internet development and marketing investment. Being the best matters again.