(By Bob McCurdy) I was speaking last week with a client whom I had not previously met, and right after the introduction pleasantries, her first question was, “OK, so tell me something I don’t know.” We ended up having a productive conversation and I believe, at the end, she bought into the fact that she was not speaking with a chipmunk.
Those eight words though, got me thinking about the importance of each one of us being able to “educate” our clients about some aspect of their or our business with every “interaction,” be it via phone, in person, email, or otherwise.
Being able to do so, makes us worth knowing, which makes us worth “being seen” and assists us in establishing ourselves as a helpful professional who’s remembered during those trigger times that immediately precede any media-buying decision. Being seen for what we know in addition to what we sell is a good thing, as ultimately our only professional currency is our professional expertise.
As salespeople, we entertain, proselytize, inspire, fuel commerce, but we also must educate.
I recall several years back when Kim Vasey, a Senior Partner Director of Radio at GroupM, addressed our sales staff and reinforced this message, stressing the need to continue to “educate and re-educate” clients and ad agencies, citing turnover and the difficulty of staying on top of all the new developments in media. This challenge is even more acute in 2018.
Educating clients can be the difference between prospering and struggling, and is not all about altruism. It is in our own self-interest to educate, as those who know what we know will be more likely to believe what we believe, and view the media landscape similarly. Not a bad goal.
I recently reconnected with an extremely competent ex-competitor of mine from my national rep days who made the successful transition to local sales and has been educating his clients for years. His name is Larry Julius and he is the General Sales Manager of the Portland Radio Group in Maine. Check out some of his outstanding blogs from which to liberally “borrow” and supplement our own client education efforts. There is little doubt that Larry would have been able to tell the client referenced above a few things she might not have known.
The great thing about educating clients is that it forces us to learn. It’s been said that if you want to learn something, put yourself in a position where you have to teach it. So when we establish the habit of educating clients, we are really taking greater control of our own professional development, which ultimately enables us to have more control over our lives.
You can start small, but start. Fifteen minutes of daily, focused professional study equates to two hours/week or about 100 hours per year devoted to professional education. All it requires is a little discipline and the belief that an educated client is a better client.
Setting aside these 900 seconds each day will not only guarantee that you’d ace the question that was posed to me, but that you educate your clients to their continued financial benefit as well as yours.