THREE things to consider when speaking to a group of people about what you do:
1) Cater to your audience.
For instance, if you’re speaking to a design guild about how awful the textiles are they’ve installed in their customer’s homes, how difficult they are to clean (I’m lookin’ at YOU, faux soie…), then you’re basically insulting them to their faces. That would be a major lost opportunity!
Talk about how SMART they are to use such cost effective fibers to keep their costs low, while giving their customers the high-end look that they love without the high-end price tag. Then, and only then, should you say anything at all about the cleanability of the piece.
Instead of telling them how awful these low-performing fibers are, let them know that while other cleaners are scared to touch them, you have had specialized training in the care and maintenance of such temperamental fiber types. Where others may run from this type of work, you embrace the challenge!
Be solution oriented.
Let them know that you’d be happy to help them put together a pamphlet or information sheet explaining to their customers what to expect from their new rug, and how they should (or should not) spot clean a textile with silk, or a faux soie fiber content.
2) Don’t explain your methods.
Referral groups like BNI and the Chamber of Commerce are an excellent way to get your business recognized as the “go-to” in your field. Where many fail, however, is in execution during a presentation. Whether it’s a one-minute “commercial” or a forty-minute “show-and-tell,” we often focus on HOW we do what we do, instead of WHY the good people listening should remember and refer you. Just telling them to do so means nothing.
This is especially true when only given a short time to speak. You’re locally owned and operated, you focus on educating your staff AND your customers. Your methods are not cookie-cutter, but are customizable to each situation, a flexibility that only comes with years of experience. Try to convey a few of the extras that makes your company the best.
Tell a story about a recent job that will sound familiar to most – pet accident damage, children making a mess, in-laws coming to town – something that caused a customer to call in an embarrassed panic. How did you provide excellent customer service? What was the result when you were done? Assure the group that you see this kind of situation all the time and that it’s usually fixable with a quick call to your company.
When asking referral partners for referrals, you need to educate them in a simple, memorable, consistent way. Tell them what to listen for and what to look for when they are in their customer’s homes. Instruct them to look for pet stains, listen for complaints of pet accidents in the home – those are GREAT referrals for you.
3) Give something for nothing.
People like presents. Don’t be afraid to offer up a service as a test-run for your listeners. It’s a great way to let them be able to speak about you in the first person. Personal referrals are the best referrals.
If it’s moth season, make sure your presentation covers the topic of moth life cycle and damage, and then offer free moth treatment on any rug they bring for cleaning. If it’s mud season, talk about the damaging effects of embedded soils that the vacuum can’t reach, and them offer a free professional dusting – no purchase required. Chances are they’ll be so impressed with the dusting result, they’ll have you clean it anyway!
Be sales oriented.
If you’d like to promote an optional service, like rug padding for example, offer a deep discount on rug padding. Make sure, through your presentation, that they understand the many benefits of rug padding, and then give them 40% off a custom fit rug pad. No other purchase required. When the rug comes to you for padding, thoroughly pre-inspect it as if it were going to be cleaned, and maybe you’ll close the sale. At least it will give them something to think about if they decline to have their rug cleaned!
We love to give away stuff with our company name and logo, but just how useful is yet another gimme pen? Make sure the thing you give away is something that won’t be thrown away – even if it has next to nothing to do with your industry. Also, make sure your name, phone number, and website are printed large enough to remain legible, even if it means sacrificing and excluding your pretty logo. Things like emery boards and rulers are useful things that get tucked safely into a drawer for future use, and fridge magnets are useful too. Bring enough for TWO per person at your presentation, and encourage your listeners to keep one for themselves, and pass one on to a friend or colleague.
A fourth and bonus tip is:
4) Confidence is key!
Be prepared. Knowing your material is important! Have and use a well-rehearsed elevator-pitch which you can expand upon. Use an outline so you stay on topic. If you’re not a natural speaker, practice in front of a mirror. Watch your “uhmmms” and “errrrrs” so that you sound articulate. Watch the clock so that you don’t run long. When you take the time to look and sound like you know what you’re talking about, others will believe you. Relax, try to have some fun with it, and you will naturally exude confidence.