A few months ago, I was helping Tim, a business consultant, with his About Page opening. His draft opened with the statement, “My favorite place in the world is on the golf course.”
When I suggested that he begin by focusing on the client, he was confused. “I want to get away from the nitty gritty of what I do,” he said. “I’m tired of writing about numbers and goals. I want people to know me as a person and see what I’m like to work with.”
I get where he’s coming from. We all get tired of talking business all the time.
I asked Tim, “Why do people hire you?”
“Because they value my knowledge,” he said immediately. “They’re paying for my expertise.”
“They want someone who’s going to motivate them…someone who’s responsive to their needs. Someone who’s creative…who will think out of the box, to use a cliche. Someone who cares about them and their business.”
“OK, as soon as they hear ‘golf course,’ they’ll imagine a playboy who spends all day hitting balls.”
What does Tim teach clients how to do?
He shows them how to save money in their inventory management systems. He works with product-based businesses who lose money when they make certain choices about how to stock and distribute inventory.
And can he do it within a certain time frame or a certain ease?
Yes, many clients need just one session.
So we have, “I teach medium size manufacturing companies to plug the profit leaks in their inventory control systems, in just thirty days.”
Next, Tim follows with a turn-around story: how he saved a business hundreds of thousands of dollars from certain disaster.
Perfect. That’s the winning formula.
He’s not the only service-based business owner with these challenges. So here are 3 tips to help:
(1) Lead with the business.
Imagine you’re working for a brick-and-mortar company as an employee. You hear you’re getting a new division head.
How will the office gossip go?
It’s probably along the lines of, “Will we get another gung-ho jerk who wants us to work 70-hour weeks?”
Or, “Will she bring in another flavor-of-the-month employee engagement program?”
Or, “Will he know what he’s doing or will he create policies that make it harder to do our jobs?”
Most likely you won’t be wondering, “What does she do for fun?” Or, “Why did he get into this line of work?”
After the first six months or so, you might get more curious about the division head’s personal life. Maybe she’ll handle a situation especially well and you’ll wonder where
she learned to do that. Or he did something so unbelievably dumb you’ll ask yourself, “How on earth did he end up here?”
But initially, it’s all business. It’s all about, “How will this person affect my business life here?”
That’s the way most of us approach someone when we’re considering doing business with them. We want to know if they’re competent and easy to work with. Later we’ll get around to the golf course.
Your business isn’t boring to someone who’s looking for your help. You may live with numbers and goals each day, but your prospective client finds these topics intriguing, frustrating, confusing, or scary. If you’re having trouble making this content engaging, you can start with a story. Which brings us to …
(2) Stories, not skills.
All too often, I see profiles and About Pages with phrases like these:
“Strong analytical skills.”
“Deep knowledge of the industry.”
“Committed to delivering quality.”
When you’re writing your About Page or LinkedIn profile, there’s no need to describe yourself with adjectives, ever. You can demonstrate your personality, style and skill with a well-chosen, well-crafted story. You can use testimonials and case studies.
Imagine meeting a new coworker in your workplace or chatting with someone at a networking event. Would you say something like, “I’m an amazing writer!”
Hopefully not. If you’re a financial advisor, you might say, “I had these clients — really nice young couple — who were just getting started on building their wealth. They didn’t see how they’d ever be able to buy a house. I helped them manage their cash flow and choose the best investment programs for their needs. Six months later, they bought their first home.”
This story shows you care for your clients, you don’t offer cookie-cutter solutions and you get results. You could add a few sentences to demonstrate the way you work with clients — i.e., you’re non-judgmental, friendly, and open to new ideas. You could add comments about being up-to-date on opportunities you could offer them now — options that weren’t available a year ago.
(3) Get personal after you’ve connected in order to deepen connections.
Are you a raving fan of a certain football team? Did you go to a university that’s got a big fan base? Do you have a hobby that others will relate to (such as playing a musical instrument, baking delectable desserts, or rescuing stray cats)?
People will use this information to connect with you. It’s very much a judgment call; certain hobbies will actually work against you as you try to build a relationship.
What are your thoughts? Do you find you want to get the business info before moving on? Or are you more likely to do business with someone when you share something deeply personal?