Joe Greeley here, with Nimlok Minnesota.

Here’s what’s on my mind – Prospects vs. Clients.

Now for some reason when I hear that, I think of a wrestling match. I think of prospects taking on the clients, clients taking on the prospects, body slams…ha! It’d be kind of fun, wouldn’t it? Admit it, it’d be cool. But no. That’s not it — that’s just my mind.

What I’m really here to talk about is, do we treat them any different when they come to see us at our exhibit? Too often, we hear “no.” Quite frankly, they’re all lopped in, treated the same. Demos are demos, website visits are website visits, or tours. The same give-aways, the same Powerpoint presentation. Everything’s the same.

The only difference is you know one, and you’re going to introduce yourself to the other one, right? Outside of that, it’s all the same.

Think of it this way, “Hey Bill, how are you? Acme Bomb Company – sold you the detonators last year — good to see you!” Versus the other guy you don’t know.

We’ve all done this — you’re trying to get a sneak peek at his badge…but, it’s caught in his shirt. You’re doing the nonchalant, pretending you dropped a quarter, looking, trying to get his name. The minute you do that, you see…OH! I saw the hairy belly button! Can’t un-see that now at all, can I? Now I don’t even remember the name. Point is, that’s really the only difference. You know one and you don’t know the other.

So, how come we’re not showing our existing clients a little bit more love is the point to all this, right? Too often, in the commercial business to consumer world, it’s just the opposite, isn’t it? “Hey, sign up for this and we’ll give you this if you’re a new client!”, or “Switch over and do this we’ll give you a better deal.” Hey – what about us? We’ve been with you through thick and thin – fifteen, twenty years!

I’ve been with AT&T and DirecTV for almost 20 years. The only time they show me any love or appreciate me is when a contract is up, quite frankly. Or the latest and greatest is, “You know what Mr. Greeley, if you share with us all of your buddies names, we’ll call them and try to sell them service and tell them you said it was okay, and then we’ll give you a slightly better deal.”

I don’t know about you, but there’s no way you’re getting my buddies’ names from me. That would get me banned from the men’s crisis center, for sure! (It’s just my neighbor’s garage with a beer fridge, but

I’m going to get banned!) Point is, there’s too much focus too often on, in this case, the actual prospect vs even the clients. Again, I’ve been with you fifteen, twenty years.

What I’m challenging you to think about, is how do you treat them slightly differently? Your clients have been with you through thick and thin, right? So what are you going to do in your exhibit to treat them any differently? How are you going to make them feel special? How are you going to make them feel the star of the show? We still want prospects, so I’m not suggesting that we ignore them. Far, far from it!

But most of the time we’ve got that down pat. We’ve got the new demos, we’ve got all this. What do we do to make our clients feel special?

I’m going to give you one example, it’s an existing client of ours and they have a 10 x 20 foot booth. Adjacent to that, or across the aisle, they have a 10 x 10 booth. Now, the 10 x 20 is strictly for sales. It’s for demos, it’s for driving business, trouble shooting, asking questions, problem solving, things like that with clients and our prospects, right?

On the other side they had a 10 x 10 space – one year it was even a tiki bar. This space was dedicated for clients only. It was a way to show them “Hey, we appreciate you. Sit down, have a soft drink. Talk to some of our other clients, talk to some of our other reps.” Not necessarily about business, just about an appreciation for being our clients. It became so popular, it created quite the buzz around the show. Their 10 x 10 space wasn’t nearly big enough to fit all these people that came to it and they expanded ultimately into a 10 x 20 foot space. Even there they are really, quite frankly, bursting at the seams. They get so many clients that come and see them and visit this space because they feel appreciated.

What it’s done for them is this, too —- their prospects see this. “Wow – look at what they’re doing – I’m not just getting sold something, their clients stick with them – they’re part of the fabric of who this company is, and they treat them really, really, well.”

The challenge today, is what could you be doing differently? We could certainly give them something different on a give-away, and that’s fine, too, but how do we make them feel special?

I’ve got one other example of a client of ours in a very large exhibit carved out a VIP area. It had a lot of the same activities as the prospect area, except for this was private. You got to sit in a lounge, you got to do it at a slower pace, and you got a chance to interact a little bit more and a little bit different. You were basically shown a lot of appreciation. It was a huge hit – people wanted in – they wanted to be part of that. It also gave an opportunity to show off some of their clients.

I also know a lot of you do off-site entertainment – rent suites and things like that. Now I’m certainly not suggesting that you stop doing that. What I am suggesting, is that you continue it on the show floor – make it a bit more public, if you can possibly do that. Again, it will make your clients the star of the show.

I’ll leave you with this, Jodi Picoult once said, “The way that I see it, love is just a bigger, stickier form of trust.” Kind of gives you something to think about, doesn’t it?

That’s what was on my mind – let us know how we can help.