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Business Tip: Give before you expect to receive

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In business the general view is that there is no such thing as a “free lunch”. This implies that, if a consumer within your target market receives something free from a business, there is always an expected quid pro quo.

If this is the conventional wisdom, the question remains as to how a business may provide value, without the potential future client experiencing it as “bribery” to buy something from the business?

Below are a few examples of value-adding that, if they are not followed up by a request to buy, may make a positive impression of your business on the client.

  • Illustrate your knowledge of a specific solution by demonstrating that you understand the target client’s need/challenge. Write short articles, and/or take part in radio/TV interviews where you, as the expert, give objective advice on the problem posed and also supply suitable solutions. Journalists and other media owners are always looking for subjects that people are struggling with, as well as experts that are able to address these subjects. Think, for example, of “green” solutions, the pursuit of healthier lifestyles, weight loss, how to save in challenging economic circumstances, how to start an own business, how to survive with children in their teenage years, and so forth.
  • Clients often do not understand their actual needs and buy services and products that seem to offer a solution to their need/challenge. Instead of simply providing a quotation on service requests, why not go that step further and determine what the most optimal solution for addressing the client’s need, would be. This might sometimes result in your business not being able to provide the optimal solution – then provide a referral.
  • Give free samples of your product to potential clients. They may then use the product and experience the results themselves, instead of just trusting your sales input and the endorsement of existing clients.
  • Become involved in matters that are of consequence to your target market. Your involvement should, however, be sincere, or you should not even consider it.
  • In many cases people have questions and just want to use an expert as a sounding board. I think of the advice counter at a nursery that people may contact telephonically or in person if they require advice on which chemical substance they need to treat a sick plant or shrub, or which shrubs flourish in shade. Not all businesses are necessarily suited to this type of solution, but it remains something to consider. This is another way of demonstrating your expertise.

If you succeed in establishing this added value, it may hold the following benefits for your business:

  • Your expertise instils respect in your target market. This subsequently creates trust in your target market that you are the right person to solve their needs/challenges.
  • Your credibility grows – people believe your advice and accept your guidance.
  • You become part of your target market’s “solution” – they see you as a “partner” in their lives.
  • It creates a perception of accessibility with your target market.
  • Applied correctly, it creates positive word of mouth for your business.

Winston Churchill was probably correct when he said the following, “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give."

Find a way of sharing your unique expertise with your target market FREE OF CHARGE – in all probability your business will reap the benefits thereof in growing sales.

To support business owners with the important task of business planning, Sanlam gives you free access to the book Your Annual Business Game Plan for Success, which provides an easy and straightforward framework needed to draft a well-crafted game plan that will create the positive change and growth necessary for business success.

Go to www.sanlamgameplan.co.za to download your free copy.

Article written by Jannie Rossouw, Head: Sanlam Business Market

Copyright © Sanlam, 2016

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