Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What business are you really in?

How many potential profitable business relationships do you leave behind you in your business networking without fully exploring the possibilities. The way you ask and answer questions determines the quality of the initial conversations you have and the connections you will make.

Many of the people I meet networking will give their business category when asked "What do you do?". They will say "I am a solicitor or accountant or business coach or web designer or marketing consultant or insurance broker or financial adviser or whatever their line of business is. This often means little or does not interest & engage the person who asked the question.

In an excellent talk from Rod Sloane yesterday on how to sell more products and services he reminded us of the question that Theodore Levitt asked Corporate America nearly 50 years ago. He asked what business are you really in. At the time the US Railroad companies answered Railroads rather than transport and subsequently lost out to the car industry. He argued that to to succeed your business must not focus on selling, but on providing solutions to your customers. If you focus solely on your industry your product may become obsolete, but if you focus on your customers you can adapt to changing needs. Ground breaking ideas and insights in the early 1960s and still good advice today.

So next time someone asks what you do answer with what your customers really buy from you. If you don't know that then ask a few of them.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
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