Creating a Reputation
by Marcia Yudkin
Want to shorten
the sales cycle for your professional services?
Want pre-sold prospects who need fewer or no
face-to-face meetings before hiring you? Create
Recently a room full of consultants agreed that
you had to meet with potential clients at least
twice - better, three times - before winning the
business. "Then how do you get business
outside the area?" someone asked. The
consensus: Forget it.
Yet I've been hired by companies in Australia
and elsewhere without even phone calls, much
less a face-to-face. Like nearly all my most
congenial clients, they weren't choosing
candidates to compare with one another. They
weren't shopping, weren't engaged in a
systematic search. If hunting, they stopped when
they found me. Or they hadn't thought of
spending money on their problem until my
reputation gave them the idea.
Publishing books, as I've done, is just one way
to establish a reputation that pre-sells
prospects on what you can do for them. For image
consultant Mary Lou Andre of Needham,
Massachusetts, a reputation-building tool has
been her Web site. In addition to descriptions
of her services, her site at http://www.dressingwell.com
chronicles the media publicity she's received
and highlights her approach to fashion through
profiles of prominent individuals and
corporations that she's helped.
"Last fall I closed a national retail chain
that found us on the Web and e-mailed us in
June," says Andre. "When I told them I
was about to give birth, they said they'd wait.
In September, they signed the contract. We never
met face to face! They modeled the entire
project after the work I did for Bose
Corporation, which is featured on our Web site.
I firmly believe our reputation (and Web site)
closed the deal."
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For translation industry consultant Sarah
Pilgrim of Wilsall, Montana, a
reputation-building tool has been a half-page ad
she's run for years in a trade journal for
translators. A signed testimonial in it from
someone in the business and a credential of
having been in the business herself for 20+
years gives her high credibility with her target
"When translation agency owners read my
bio, they recognize the name of the translation
company I founded and sold, which has a good
reputation," Pilgrim adds. "When they
call to find out more, they can tell I know the
business. And therefore when I've gone to visit
clients it's always been as a paid consultant,
with the client footing the bill."
Whether you use publishing, the Internet,
advertising, promotional newsletters or media
coverage to build a reputation, it takes time.
Each piece of visibility reinforces previous
effects. With a reputation, you get more
inquiries like "Do you do...?" and
fewer along the lines of "We're looking for
a ___ who does..." With a reputation,
pre-sale meetings drop to one or zero. E-mail or
phone exchanges can suffice. Powerful stuff!
Copyright 2000 Marcia Yudkin.
All rights reserved.
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