Demonstrate, do not tell. That is one of the secrets of selling. Every organization is always open to fresh talent. Someone who is practical in solving the problems at hand. Forget a list of qualifications after your name. Those are mere papers. The issue is what can you do to improve my condition?
It is common to find a company which boasts of a fully-fledged IT department but lacks the skills to connect computers to a printer on the network so that people don’t have to waste time and resources in copying files on thumb drives! And so it occurred that a company which has an ‘accountant’ does not have an annual budget broken-down monthly for effective monitoring of cash flows! An Accounting Firm must be recruited to help with budgeting. Really!
On 15th August 2009, I wrote a letter to the Managing Director (MD) of a Creative Media Design firm inviting the company to send a representative at a conference dubbed, “Unlock Your Potential SMEs Forum” which my company, Summit Consulting Ltd, organized at the time. The MD, a tall, light-skinned Ugandan lady, with an American accent responded with a call to yours truly.
“Is this Mustapha? I received your letter inviting us to attend your upcoming conference. I love the idea and I am going to participate. Before I decide how many people to send, I want an appointment with you to discuss how we can partner. I have also some suggestions for you to make it the event a success. How is your tomorrow?”
I replied, in affirmative. The following day, I met the lady with two of her colleagues.
They came along with a complete sample brand manual for Summit Consulting Ltd. The logo. The business cards. The letterheads. The powerpoint slides design. Office branding template. Event magazine layout template. And laptop screenshot. All consistent, with a story of the reworked logo Summit Consulting Ltd. It was so awesome to resist. The effort was too much to ignore.
They did not try to sell to me. They converted me instantly. They demonstrated they cared more about the success of my company and removed ALL the doubt I would have had about their capacity to design a great logo and make a compelling brand manual that shows consistent branding across the board.
Immediately, I asked them, what is the cost for the work done as I already wanted to start using the new logo and stationery like business cards and letterheads for my subsequent business communication. We agreed on the fee. And since then, we have never looked back. The Summit Consulting Logo the team designed is still in use to date.
Keep in mind that I had received proposals from over 9 marketing agencies to redesign my company logo and provide a new brand manual. These were thought documents, printed in color and delivered. When I opened the proposals, it was all about them, who we are. What we do. Our team. Our experience. As you read such proposals, it becomes so boring. It is about them not me.
One wonders why cant such firms spend the time making a demo instead of writing letters! I have realized the secret of selling is to show people instead of wasting time telling them what you can do.
For this reason, I never waste my time reading newspapers for the invitation for bids in order to apply. It is one of the biggest time wasters. By the time someone advertises, in my opinion, and considering my experience working in Africa, the true buyer already has made up their mind of the person they want to take the tender. All they are doing is “to formalize things to comply with the law”! That is the sour reality in our countries. And make no mistake. The state of affairs is the same across the world including developed market. It goes without saying that your best stock in trade is networking and building lasting relationships so that the buyer consults informs you to read the papers of the new job advert they have just placed!
For that reason, we have built our company on referrals, repeat business and consultants of consultants, where we are called in to help fix things since the people who got the deal cannot finish the job.
I wish you success in your business. Remember to demo NOT to tell others about what you can do.