We all know where we like to shop and we all know where to go when we need advice about organising our complex 21st Century lives. We go to people with a good reputation, people we can trust. We buy brands that mean quality, reliability, safety and satisfaction.
How do we know about a product or service? The Internet has helped this process of discernment enormously. If I’m invited out to a restaurant that I’ve never been to before, I don’t just ask friends and family what they think, I go on-line and check out the gossip. The same is true of your business. I always say treat people with respect, everyone you meet – you never know who they are or how they may impact on your life in the future.
Apart from the obvious concept that integrity and respect underpin relationships that are constructive, positive and enduring. To me business is about building relationships and we all have an inbuilt bullshit detector. I remember once being encouraged to buy a huge box of frozen prawn kebabs out of the back of a van by a very keen and pushy young man. I found it difficult to say ‘no’ and ended up buying a box with my neighbour. Now that young man may have made a sale but the experience put me off prawn kebabs for life.
We appreciate a straight talker and someone who is selling something they believe in. Unlike traditional business advisors I never recommend pretending to be a customer to find out about your competitors. I have found that a successful business run by someone who is secure and passionate about whatever it is – will be hard to shut up and often extremely generous with information and advice….the worst that can happen is that they don’t want to talk to you. That’s fine – no harm done.
One man I coached called the first competitor he came to in the Yellow Pages – it turned out that this person was looking for a business partner as he had so much work. The rest is history – the two men have been working together happily and profitable for the last 2 years. Now if the client had pretended to be a customer he wouldn’t have had the break that got him started…