Paying It Forward

Every business—big or small—has competitors. That means to attract new clients and make them repeat customers, we need to offer them something special. What makes you different from your competitors? How do you stand out? Anyone can offer a discount to attract a one-time client - if it's consistency and a good reputation you want, you need something more personal, that elusive je ne sais quoi. What really is that ‘certain something’?

In the movie “Pay it Forward”, 11-year old Trevor turns a school assignment into a movement of good deeds. After helping a stranger and a friend, he asks them to “pay the favour forward” to someone else, thereby starting off a positive ‘what goes around, comes around’.

The same can be said for our potential customers. Make yourself noticed, impress them, and be genuine instead of grandstanding. This is what networking events are for: To meet many potential future customers, and let them know about your business. Be collaborative, share tips, make connections and introductions between other businesses you know. It doesn't hurt to be nice and helpful to others; in fact, it can only benefit you, whether they plan to use your service or not. You never know when they might come around or whom they know, and then you are more likely to find loyal customers through good referrals.

The “certain something”, that little extra you can offer, varies from business to business. Here are common factors that generally are effective:

  • Be truthful. Diplomacy, politeness and honesty are valued traits. Do not over-embellish on something you cannot offer (yet); stick to the facts. If you are unable to provide a particular product or service, say so, then offer a possible solution; either one you can devise or refer someone you know can do it. Both the prospect and the other business will be grateful.
  • Show passion. Sure, you enjoy what you do, that’s why you’re doing this, isn’t it? But does your passion come across? Show your excitement about your product or service, emphasize what you can offer, and most importantly how it can benefit your prospect; customers want to know their “what’s in it for me”. Passion is contagious, as long as it is not creepy or totally over the top, then people will “want some of what she’s having”.
  • Know your stuff. Really well. Impress the pants off your prospects by showing just how much you know about your product or service, and how you can help them. Relevant examples help, e.g. how much time, hassle, money, or pain they can save by using your gadget or service.
  • Be compassionate. Avoid the hard-sell, everyone hates being on the receiving end! Instead, allow your prospect to tell you how you can help them. A larger-than-life presenter I heard, reminded his audience of the simple opening phrase: “How can I help you?” What is it your prospect needs? What are they having trouble with? Relate directly to their needs and how you can help fill or fix their needs or challenges.

Essentially, just be authentic and truthful - honesty and compassion usually win and if you are faking it, the truth will come out in the end. Just ask Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong about that.


Blog originally written for and published in July 2013 for Canadian Small Business Women

“Pay it Forward” – the movie,
“In praise of the Purple Cow”,
“4 Ways To Wow Your Customers With Excellent Customer Service”,
“12 Ways to wow your customers”, 
“Customer Service guide – How to impress your clients”,

Image: Microsoft Word 2010 Clipart

Image: Microsoft Word 2010 Clipart