A Diamond in the Rough

I know nothing about concrete drilling except that the drills used are diamond-encrusted. Diamonds are the hardest material in the world. This is measured by determining scratch resistance. Diamonds are usually comprised of 99.7% carbon. There are actually two harder substances found. One of them was created by man, and one was found in space. A laboratory synthetic nanomaterial called wurtzite boron nitride, and a substance found in meteorites called lonsdaleite.

What’s the significance? Not much. But I know this information because I enjoy getting to know my clients like this concrete drilling company. The story of landing this client is actually a very simple one, but an interesting case study.

It was October 2017 and I had been getting my feet wet with sales for a few months. My day would start by picking a part of town in New York City or the surrounding burrows. I would park and walk down the avenues, simply letting myself into the businesses of my choice and starting a conversation with whomever I saw. The plan was always to end up as my decision-maker. One such decision-maker turned client called me into his office as I finalized the installation of their updated payment software. “Could you help my buddy the same way you helped me,” inquired Dan? “Yes,” I replied, sitting tensely in an armchair across from my newly minted client.

Don picked up the phone and called his boy Ray. “Hey,” shouted Don. “I have this kid in here who just lowered our processing fees. Can you see him in 10 minutes at your office?” It seemed that Ray was used to these daily antics from his buddy. Ray obliged, and Don sent me on my way. I was out the door before I even asked for directions. Maybe I was nervous, maybe I was excited.

As I made my over to Ray’s business, I had to admit that this future opportunity was a miracle. I was too afraid to ask for a referral from this business I just closed! It was my client who put his foot down and gave his pal no choice but to have me at his office. Why didn’t I ask for it on my own? I wasn’t afraid to walk into Don’s business and ask for his business. Why was asking for a referral any different?

I finally found a parking space that blocked the business’s driveway (great first impression), and made my way up to a waiting Ray. I have to say, it was one of the easiest sales I’ve ever made. His assistant was tasked with getting me all the paperwork and info I requested. Two weeks later, I boarded this new concrete drilling company.

So why did I have such a hard time asking for a referral from a business that I knew I was helping and adding value for? Spoiler alert, I still do. Like diamonds, I still find little harder to ask for.

There’s a simple answer I can offer for six years ago. I hadn’t fully appreciated how powerful a referral was. But why does that still pertain to me, now? I’d say it’s a mix of the following two truths. 1. It feels selfish. 2. The fear of rejection.
It’s one thing to appear selfish with someone we don’t yet have a relationship with. We’ll likely never interact with them again. The same goes for rejection. When we now have a relationship with that individual as a client, rejection is that much more personal. Asking for an introduction from a client has the possibility of getting stymied and we’re that much more uncomfortable.

So, I’m talking to myself here. Welcome to the industry of sales. Step one, bring on a client. Step two. Be so valuable to your clients that they want to be referring you. It won’t however always be on the top of their mind. That’s natural. But they’ll likely be happy you asked. When you believe in your value, shouldn’t it cause you to believe in it universally? Give your client the opportunity to help that process. They’ll probably be glad you asked. You’ll now also have a reason to go the extra mile for them too.

Shalom Markman
Merchant Consulting Group LLC
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