Recently, President Obama was in Seattle and met with three small business owners to talk about their situation. Â Now, this is not a political post and I refuse to discuss the politics of anything here. Â But the point is, when you read the comments from this meeting, the business owners felt like it was real and that he really cared and listened. Â Here’s one of the most intimidating meetings those business owners could have had and yet they came away thinking he cared. How did he do that?
First, he wore a dress shirt and tie but had his sleeves rolled up. Â He didn’t come dressed to the teeth – he came dressed in a professional but accessible way. Â Next, he asked good questions. Â We have all been told to ask our clients, “what keeps you up at night?” and that’s one he asked. Â But then he listened and paid attention to the answer. He took notes, obviously while the people were talking, and then at the end, gave a summary of the meeting where he was able to reference specific things each person said. Â So he started the meeting stating he wanted to hear their issues, he listened and took notes, and at the end was able to explain to others what they said. Â How Â do you think those business owners felt at the end of that meeting?
Wouldn’t this be much easier to do with your clients? After all, you don’t have to line up secret service or shut down blocks of traffic to have a meeting. Â Sitting down with your clients in a casual atmosphere, asking good, pointed Â questions about their business and then being able to discuss those concerns after the meeting go a long way in showing how much you value their business. Â If you can’t be there in person, schedule a phone conversation and really ask those questions that they want to answer – “what keeps you up at night?”; “what are your biggest challenges in the next 6 months?”; “what one thing could have a large positive impact on your business?”; etc. Â And then, do what you can to follow up. Â If the one thing that could positively impact their business is finding a specific type of customer or breaking into a specific company, see what you can do to help. Â If the thing keeping them up at night is cash flow, think of ways you can help or bring in a speaker to talk about smart money management strategies. Find ways to show you were listening and you won’t need a press conference to announce you had the meeting. Â You’ll need one to announce how much you’ve grown your business!