Your Legacy: People over Prospects
This is Part II of our series on what it means to build your legacy. We are not filling a vault; we are creating an archive. Giving people access to our knowledge, expertise, and wisdom. In today’s excerpt, we are focusing on some principles of building the business side of your creative journey. We will be exploring what it means to treat our customers as people, not just prospects.
Something you might be tempted to do in the midst of a crisis in your business is to hoard. Maybe not necessarily hoard in the context of cleaning out the store of canned goods and toilet paper. No, this kind of hoarding has to do with self-preservation on a different scale. It looks like desperately trying to retain clients, trying to keep your income consistent. You might say,” but isn’t that just a natural response to doing business?” Yes, to some degree, it is. But it shows that we are in a scarcity mindset and keeps us from being generative in our life and work.
I’ve noticed that it is just as important as keeping your income consistent is keeping connection consistent. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us one thing, and if anything, life can go on even if we are distanced (socially and physically). It may not be the healthiest way to live, but we can endure it for a time. Maybe even thrive.
The problem here is that whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you need people. Yes, you need customers to maintain a business. However, I’m talking about something intangible; it’s something I had the privilege of watching my parents model to me, even at a young age. They say that some things are caught, not taught. This is very true when it came to learning the value of “people over prospects.” Without knowing it, I was being groomed for what I consider the most important part of my legacy as a creative and a business owner.
My mom and dad were both salespeople. Growing up around them, I would always hear them having conversations with their clients. To tell you the truth, I could never tell if they were talking to friends or clients. But that’s just how they did it. My parents never met a stranger. To them, everyone was an old friend. They knew the value of a relationship. Sure, they had their bottom line in mind (in their case it was the boss’s bottom-line). But, they never let that overshadow their innate desire to love people and show them they cared.
That’s what I want to leave you with today. If you’re concerned about where your business is going, maybe switch gears for a short period of time and connect with your clients on a personal basis. This doesn’t mean that you have to become their best friend or pseudo-therapist. But it does mean that you need to show them that you care. We’re all in this together. We’re all trying to figure out what steps to take, trying to anticipate what things will look like after a global pandemic. What and how we do business will look different. But how we treat people doesn’t have to change. If anything, it can get better, and our businesses might be better for it.
Let me offer a few tips:
- Offer hope instead of a sales pitch: Instead of calling or emailing to offer a service. Offer tips that focus on enriching their lives, not your wallet. It can be personal, or you can share something you’ve read or heard.
- Offer compassion to people instead of commodifying them: Focus on ways to connect with your clients in a way that makes them feel like they are seen and noticed and heard and not just a commodity to your business.
- Offer free services instead of an upsell: Right now seems like an awesome opportunity to monopolize on many scaleable ways to grow your business. What if you also focused on offering value instead of trying to make that sale? Offer FREE content or services to increase your value. It may just produce a long-term result and a longer-lasting client relationship than just a one-time transaction.
* Side-note: If you are a solopreneur, this may be something you implement by carving out an hour or two each week. Just make it work for you, follow-up with customers, write a blog post, share it via email, compose a thoughtful text, and send it to your clients (no group threads, though, ok). For a larger team, you may want to delegate this to your more capable staff members. Assign groups of clients to a few people and give them specific tasks related to caring for them in thoughtful ways.
Regardless of a pandemic or any other local or global crisis, these are just good practices to put into place as a business owner. Treating your customers like people is just good ol’ fashioned decency. Love thy neighbor, am I right?
What have you put into practice in order to show people that they are more than clients or customers to you?
How have you taken this time to emphasize their importance to your business by acknowledging their humanity?
It will take some effort to implement this into your business practice. But I assure you, it is a precious way to invest your time. This will become a valuable asset and a sustainable way to build your business in the long run. So why not start now?