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I’ve been around the block a few times so I’ve got a rich and varied experience to call upon and I’m not alone, I know plenty of people who have earned their stripes in more than one specialism. However, when you offer too wide a breadth of information people have doubts. It doesn’t matter how much hands-on experience you’ve got, if you claim to know too much people see you as a jill-of-all-trades. That’s one reason it’s really important to have a niche – because it classifies you as a specialist.
When you’ve identified your niche you need to have credibility and this is not the easiest thing to establish. When I was working with a group of trainers we used a model for sales training that had steps:
Step 1 – create rapport – get the client to show some sign that they feel comfortable with you and are willing to at least listen to what you have to say.
Step 2 – establish your credibility. If the client doesn’t know anything about your company, product, service you need to ensure they feel they can trust your organisation and what it offers. This can include all kinds of things from any awards you’ve won, to testimonials from other clients (particularly ones that the new client already knows or knows of), case studies, discussion of how you go about ensuring your client gets what they want, etc. Until the client accepts that they can trust you to deliver what you promise, there is not point in moving on to steps 3, 4 and 5 – you’ll be wasting your time.
Of course, if you’re a well known name it’s easy – if you work for Dyson, Virgin, British Airways, Ford Motor Company, or any other big name, your potential client will already have established perceptions of what kind of company you are. However, it’s wise to check what these are – some people have had bad experiences with a particular organisation and any future dealings with that company will be affected by that. It may be that you have to address historic issues before you can move on.
The challenge with all of this is that it takes time – but if you want the response when you meet people to be ‘Oh yes, I’ve heard lots of good things about you’ it’s not something you can put off without losing a substantial amount of potential business.