By Bill Faeth
One of the most overlooked qualities of a successful business owner is being a person of interest. What does that mean? A person of interest is someone who is professionally attractive to his or her prospects. Instead of seeking out new business, a person of interest draws in customers like a magnet.
Think about it this way: If you are brand-new to the industry but want help breaking into the affiliate game, who’s the first person who comes to mind? For me, that would be Tami Saccoccio from Commonwealth Worldwide in Boston.
Or, if you are going to break into the motorcoach business and want some advice about buying your first motorcoach, who is the first person you think of? I think of George Jacobs at Windy City Limousine & Bus. George is running more than 100 motorcoaches and shuttle buses, and was one of the first people in our industry to penetrate that side of the business. So if you’re interested in motorcoaches or you’re interested in affiliate business, George and Tami, respectively, are two people of interest in this industry to look to.
Being successful in this industry means having people’s attention. You must become a person of interest within your desired market verticals by being engaging, especially if you’re newer or smaller than your competitors—but this is only possible through truly understanding what your prospects seek. Once you know what they’re looking for, you need to identify what value you can bring them.
Here’s what you need to do
Step 1: Join an association like Meeting Professionals International (MPI) or International Live Events Association (ILEA).
Step 2: Build relationships with association board members. Remember that they’re typically the most influential people in organizations like these. That means, before you even attend your first meeting, start by researching them online via social media and Google.
Step 3: Arrive to the meeting at least 30 minutes early so you can offer assistance with setting up while getting to know the people who are already there. This will afford you a more intimate environment to introduce yourself in—and make a great first impression. Ask questions and keep initial conversations focused on the people you meet, not you; smile and be yourself but whatever you do, do not deliver a sales pitch. Don’t even entertain it.
Step 4: Nominate yourself for committees if you can devote the time and live up to the obligations. Try your best to get on the membership committee, which is typically the most undervalued and most demanding position that nobody wants. If you feel like you’re stepping on more established members’ toes, volunteer to help at social events to get your feet wet and meet members in a more casual environment.
Here’s how to create value for board members
Over-deliver. If you’ve joined the membership committee, help with the recruiting process, develop marketing campaigns, and contribute in areas where there are deficiencies. This is going to create value for the board members, who are typically larger operators with strong ties to DMCs and event planners. For bonus points, continue the habit of showing up extra early and staying extra late for meetings: Literally help them set up and tear down. The effort will not go unnoticed—or unappreciated. If you do all of this, it won’t take long before you’re a person of interest in your desired vertical.
Remember: The size of your fleet and company doesn’t matter. If you can create value for somebody, they will feel indebted to you and want to do business with you instead of your competitors—which is how you find success through becoming a person of interest.
Here’s how I do it today
I do the same thing when it comes to Limo University and other coaching programs. When people have questions about sales and marketing tactics or optimizing their profit and loss statements when scaling their business, they come to me. They didn’t do that when I was an operator; once they hear how I sold Silver Oak to Grand Avenue after quickly scaling a large company and building a $4.5M gold LEED certified building, I had their attention. Once I have someone’s attention, I seek what my prospects desire, then I give value and always try to over-deliver. The number one reason that I’ve become a person of interest in this industry is because I create value for free.
I do free webinars, meetings, coaching calls, and networking opportunities for those who need it and for those I want to serve (and ultimately win over as customers). I even give gifts so I can earn the opportunity to sell. The really cool thing about this is when you’re giving 85 percent of your value away for free, you don’t actually have to sell. Your prospects are going to seek you out. [CD0919]
Bill Faeth is the founder of Limo University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.