Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Billy’s Fifteenth Law: Always look bigger than you really are.

Perception is reality!
This, again, is a borrowed law.  I have taken this from my business partner George Slade, who is much better at this kind of thing than am I.  Many of the most successful business owners I know are bold; often exaggerating their skills and abilities in order to gain that important sale.  (I won’t go as far as to say lying but…)  George always made sure that our small technology firm looked like a big technology firm.  George began consulting for a large, international firm, but realized that the teams they put onto a project were no larger and no more competent than our small business.

The logic is simple, if KPMG is going to use a five person team for the project, and George can assemble a five person team for the same project, then George is as good as KPMG.  This is not to knock KPMG, or any other large firm, but to present things in a way that assures the customer that they were getting the same value and more personalized service than with the large business behemoth. 
George presents himself well.  He has well produced business cards, letterheads, website and the other accoutrements necessary in his business. His presentations and proposals are first rate.  He goes to the additional expense of printing on heavy bond paper.  He once told me, “It doesn't matter how good you are if you don’t get the job.” 
There is an important marketing lesson behind this law.  There are four primary buying emotions.  They are:
  •  Control
  • Security
  • Belonging 
  • Status

People gravitate towards ‘large’ because it seems a safe decision, thus meeting the customers’ security need.  If the customer needs this kind of assurance, then George provides it.  He not only had a clear idea of exactly what he could do for the customer, he had a clear understanding of the decision making processes of his clientele.

George and I were in a meeting with a client and she asked me a question about modeling her financial plan or some other arcane business process.  I thought for a minute, and then responded that we could do that for her. After the meeting, our discussion went like this:

George:  You were figuring out exactly how to develop that model right in that meeting weren't you?
Bill:         I didn't want to provide her with an answer until I knew the solution. 
George:  That’s the difference between you and me.  I would have simply told her in no uncertain terms that we could do it.  I have enough confidence that between you, me and Scott (another associate) we can solve most problems and if we can’t, we can find someone who can.

George knew that we could do it…I needed to have a good idea of how to do it before taking action.  His bold approach got more business than my cautious approach even though the customer gets the same result. It is that kind of confidence in yourself, and in the team around you that lets you be bigger than you may really be. 

So I leave the quote of the week to my friend George:

Say yes first, and figure out how you’re going to do it later. With the vast resources available to today’s entrepreneur, there are very few problems you cannot solve.
Great advice!

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