“In the factory we make cosmetics. In the drugstore we sell hope.”
Charles H. Revson, Founder of Revlon
Perfume is simply smelly (well, ok, pleasantly fragrant) water. But Revson imbued it with almost mystical powers. It could change your life.
In two short sentences, Revson conveyed an essential marketing lesson. Don’t sell the features. Sell the benefits.
Translated for professionals: Don’t sell services. Sell results.
If Revson could sell water that has absolutely no utility (you can’t even drink it), you can easily sell services that help clients make more money. That should be a cinch. Right?
Many of us emphasize cosmetics (our services) over hope (results). The “result” is fewer referrals.
Describing your results has two benefits: (1) it demonstrates what you do for clients; and (2) it distinguishes you from your competitors.
You are not merely describing what you do. You are describing the problems you solve. This will help your referral sources better understand your services. It will also help them refer you.
You can explain your results by citing mini case studies. Using examples of client projects is a great way to illustrate your work.
- Reduced manufacturing costs by x%
- Accelerated invoice collection by y days
- Reduced product development cycle by xxx
- Increased revenue by x%
Show Me the Money
Here are some “before” and “after” examples. The “before” quotations generically describe what the person does. But he or she sounds like anyone else in that profession. In some cases, you have no idea what the person does.
“I’m a CPA. I do audits.”
Your mental reaction: “Yeah, and so do dozens, if not hundreds, of CPAs in this area. I personally know more than 10 people just like you.”
“I’m a CPA. I conduct audits for mid-sized manufacturing businesses so they can get bank loans. My clients received over $50 million in bank financing last year even when credit was tight.”
Your mental reaction: “Now, I understand what Ms. CPA specializes in. I might be able to introduce her to manufacturing company CEOs or to bankers.”
Process Improvement Consultant
“I help companies streamline operations.”
Your mental reaction: “Wow! I guess “streamlining operations” is important. But I don’t have a clue how to help this guy.”
“I’m a process improvement consultant. I help clients get work done faster. One of my clients used to take two weeks to issue an invoice after receiving a contract. I recently showed her how to generate an invoice in one day after receiving a contract. As a result, the client has improved cash flow by 10%.”
Your mental reaction: “This is quite specific. Now I understand what he does. I’ll bet several accountants I know could refer him to their clients. I also know management consultants who might be able to refer him.”
“I’m an executive recruiter. I help clients find CFO’s.”
Your mental reaction: “So do lots of other recruiters. What distinguishes you?”
“I recruit CFOs for midsize companies. My clients interview only three candidates before making an offer. The industry average is six candidates per offer. That saves my clients an enormous amount of time.”
Your mental reaction: “I know a CEO who is been looking for a CFO for six months. This recruiter could probably help him.”
Organizational Development Consultant
“I help align management teams.”
Your mental reaction: “What on earth does that mean? Does she use a wrench to do ‘alignment’.”
“I help management teams work together more effectively. I recently helped a team roll out a new product in three months. It usually takes them six months.”
Your mental reaction: “Now I get it. I know a product development consultant who might be able to refer her.”