How To Prepare For The Prepared Customer

by Tom Egelhoff

Have you ever heard the phrase, "knowledge is power?" I'm sure most of you have but have you ever taken the time to focus on what that statement really means?

To me, it means that I want to feel comfortable that the person that I'm buying a product or service from has the necessary knowledge to provide it. And therein lies the power.

Confidence in your shop and your personnel has to be in place or the sale will never happen. If your customer does not have total trust and confidence in you they will walk.

So what am I talking about when I ask you to "prepare for the prepared customer?" We are living in an age of information that is unparalleled in human history.

With cell phones, palm pilots, laptops, 24/7 news, and the Internet any customer can do their own research on any product you carry in enormous detail before they ever enter your shop.

The problem is the information they find may not always be 100% accurate or up to date. So how do you keep up with them? Let look at some ways to do that.

If you are a regular reader of my web site then you know that one rule of business I stress is that you read something about your industry at least 20 minutes each and every day.

If you follow this simple guideline at the end of one year you will know more about your industry than 75% of the people in it and probably 100% more than almost any customer.

I already know what you're going to tell me. "Tom, I work 14-16-18 hour days, I don't have the time to read." My answer to you is, "Yes you do."

What you don't have time to do is thumb through 25 trade magazines each week deciding what to read. There is an easier way.

Use the same resources your customers are using. One of my favorite sites for researching any product is www.findarticles.com. I just paid a visit there and clicked on "automotive" and did a quick search on "car alarms." Guess what? Up pops 6,655 articles on car alarms.

I know what you are going to say again. "If I don't have the time to thumb through 25 magazines, how am I going to wade through 6,000 articles?" True.

But there is a difference. Not every magazine will have only car alarm articles. In less than two minutes you can quickly examine the headlines and a short synopsis and bookmark the search of the articles or individual articles you are searching for.

Each synopsis will include the name of the magazine it came from and the date the article was published. That leaves you 18 minutes for reading at least one or two articles each day.

The site is set up to email articles of interest to your other locations and printer friendly versions are also included. Print a couple out and start a reading program at your weekly sales or training meeting.

You can print them out and put them in binders for future reference. Create your own industry-training manual to get new hires up to speed on industry and product knowledge.

Tear out the old articles and replace them with new updated ones as you come across them.

You can also create a manual of articles to use as a sales aid. In many cases, just showing them the headline of an article from an industry magazine can influence a customer.

You can also keep selected articles in a binder in your waiting area to re-enforce customer confidence that you know your stuff.

Nothing worthwhile is easy. And reading is something that is very easy to put off. What if I told you reading could get you free advertising? Would that encourage you to do more of it?

Who do you think is going to know the latest info about your industry? You, or the mainstream press? If you answered "you" then you would be correct.

You are always going to know the latest developments about audio systems and car alarms long before mainstream America will. So how does this knowledge get you free advertising?

When you come across an article about a new advancement print the article or tear it out of the trade journal. Attach your business card to it along with a brief note. "Here is a new advancement in our industry that I think your readers might like to know about." "

I would be happy to give you in-depth information about the effect this innovation might have on the residents of (your city, USA)." "The best time to contact me is."

If they decide to do the story, and quote you in the article, what does that make you? Correct an expert in the field. And it all happened because you did your daily twenty-minute reading.

Does this technique always work? No. But with the right subject and the right editor you are bound to get in print sooner or later. Just keep trying and keep reading.

If you were ever a Boy Scout then you know the simple two-word motto. " BE PREPARED."


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