I’ve often wondered how much more volume an exchange could do if every broker, trade director, and sales person acted as a consultant and not a sales person. For me, it was a natural progression from understanding and being able to sell barter to being a consultant. It seems it is not such a natural progression for a lot of people. Today’s tip is based on this idea: if you know what you have, and you anticipate what they could use, you can consult with just about anyone, make a connection, and a new transaction for your exchange. It takes some creativity and some courage, but the formula is easy.
When meeting with a prospective customer or a member of your exchange, take stock of what you know about that industry. What do they usually consume? What are the more successful companies in that industry doing to succeed? What are some things that would give them a boost, that you have available?
Then, when you arrive on location, be very observant. How clean is the parking lot? How is the landscaping? How is the signage? Are their carpets dirty? Build a mental list of things that you can suggest to them when you get in the appointment. You want all of your suggestions to be based on things that you can get them through your barter exchange.
Next, in the meeting, ask pointed questions relating to their business. If they do business over the internet, and you have a company that trades search engine optimization, ask them if they have someone doing their search engine optimization, and be ready to give more information about the company you have that they can trade with. If you can, generate some examples of work they have done, and then hook up the deal. Repeat this step with anything you can suggest.
What we need to remember as exchange owners is that our job is to make suggestions. Suggest everything that comes to your mind that could help. They may say no to the majority of your suggestions, but they aren’t rejecting you, they are just saying no. And for every suggestion they say yes to, its another transaction you can add to your books.
Barter creates possibilities. When the constraints of cash slip off, people are willing to try and to do many things they normally would not do. Everyone in business is primarily concerned with one thing, making money. The bottom line and the cost of things that can be viewed as frivolous are high when they come with a cash label, but when the barter label is applied, its easier to do new things and to try what you wouldn’t consider otherwise.
One of my favorite suggestions to make when I owned an exchange was an alternative health care package. All employers want to provide benefits to their employees, but they come at a premium. In response to that specific problem, I put together an alternative health care package, which consisted of gift certificates for massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, and dentistry. I sold them in a package and suggested to my members that they could reduce their benefits cost by adding this “preventative” package to their benefits. Employers loved, employees appreciated the extra availability, and I believe those businesses had a stronger and more profitable relationship with their employees over time.
So, what is your favorite suggestion? What kinds of problems have you been able to solve through barter? How do you approach consulting your members?