This past weekend, I went to the local car rental place to pick up a car for my week-long business trip. I was going to be driving for 8 hours away, so I'd requested something a little more comfortable than usual.
When I got there, they pointed at a bright yellow hot rod. It looked pretty sweet but way too cool for me. All I could imagine was the highway patrol licking their chops as I pedaled along the interstate.
So I smiled and asked if they had anything else. They said it would take some time to get something else cleaned up and ready to go. So I drove off their lot in this rumbling mass of design and horsepower...
I've been good about driving the speed limit, but there was one thing I hadn't prepared for...
Talking the talk...
I've learned when you drive a car like this, you need to do your homework. Because everybody wants to know about it.
A couple guys at a rest stop asked me, "How you got her setup?"
I had no idea what they were asking me, so I shrugged and said it's a rental. So they went on to tell me all the cars they've had or fixed up over the years. And the engine sizes and frame types of different cars.
I just wanted to use the bathroom and get back on the road...
Then my co-workers I met up with had a bunch of questions about the engine size and horsepower and a bunch of other things. I shrugged my shoulders, so they Googled their questions and asked if they could drive it.
Then our client saw it in the parking lot and asked me to start it up. He and a bunch of people came out, drooled over it and started asking me even more of the same questions about it. Suggesting we all forget about our meeting and do donuts in the parking lot.
I'd feel pretty cool from all the attention, but then I'd feel the man-points being deducted quickly when I didn't have the answers they desperately wanted. ("This car is obviously wasted on this guy...")
My key takeaway?
Always do your homework...
And this goes hand-in-hand with a discussion I had recently with a building product rep. And my continuing advice to you.
Always be researching and studying your prospects and your industry.
If you're heading into a firm's office to present your product or service, be familiar with their work. Look at their website and see if there are any common paths you can share.
Is your product featured in one of their projects? Did they use your service to develop their projects? Is one of their competitors having success using some of your goodies?
It doesn't take a lot of work to prepare for a meeting you know is coming.
But I'm always surprised to see how many product reps come in with their canned pitch about their product. With nothing else of substance to offer.
It feels very one-dimensional. Which makes it very hard to connect with an architect or develop any kind of relationship to build on...
It's like... it's like... well... it's like a tall drink of water driving up in a sexy muscle car, but having no depth of knowledge past the fact that his car is yellow. And it's got a hemi engine because it says so on the fender...
So do yourself (and your prospects) a solid favor:
If you have a presentation or meeting coming up next week, dig in and do an hour or so of research. Find some connections you can dive into before, during or after your talk.
I think you'll find it makes your meeting more interesting for everybody. And will add a better level of engagement for you and them.
Let me know how it goes. And, of course, if you have any questions, or need some help, reach out and let's do some brainstorming together.
Make it a great marketing day!
P.S. If you're curious, the car I've been driving this week was a 2017 Dodge Challenger. It really is a fun car to drive.