Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Have You Earned the Right to Speak to Customers and Prospects?

You may have heard that we recently held a special election to elect a new U.S. Senator here in my home state of Massachusetts. Because the race between Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Martha Coakley was so tight, both sides unleashed a torrent of advertising over the final few weeks leading up to election day.

Among the most annoying of the ads (and there were plenty to be annoyed with) were the seemingly endless series of “robo-dial” automated phone calls. Over the final five days of the campaign I received at least 100 phone calls from the candidates, famous supporters, not-so-famous supporters and political action groups.

As someone who had already taken the time to become an informed voter, I did not want to waste my time with these calls. I hung up quickly on 99 of the calls.

But I patiently listened to one.

That call came from my state representative. His message was not surprising, offering his support for one of the candidates. But, why, you might wonder, did I take the time to listen to this single call out of the hundred I received?

Because it came from a source that I knew and trusted. Because my local representative had been in communication with me on a regular basis over the past several years, keeping me informed of issues that were important to my town, my business and my family.

By his accumulated efforts, he had earned the right to be heard.

Have you earned that right with customers and prospects? Have you put forth the effort to start a relationship? To establish your authority and expertise? To allow the customer or prospect to become familiar and comfortable with you?

It is foolish to believe that a single communication, no matter how powerful a blast it may be, will be sufficient to motivate people to action. It takes time and consistent effort to reach a point of understanding and acceptance. And the effort must continue to maintain that tenuous relationship.

If such an effort is required in an important arena like politics, you can imagine the necessity of regular communications in the world of commerce. What have you done today to earn the right to be heard?

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