I've studied Professional Sales in earnest to understand the digestive system of the modern business. A Salesman will, always will, forever will have one dire, fatal flaw. He is, in the end, only a Salesman. He is merely the peddler of the solution, not the creator. Clients - good ones, the kind you want - just seem to know.
Enter the Rainmaker ("RM")
In Sales, we can not sell products, we cannot sell services, we may only sell ourselves. When a client calls, wishing for solution, he desires consultation from one who a) knows best if the solution exists, b) knows best what the solution will be, c) knows best how much the solution will cost. A RM has been there, has the experience and knowledge of every aspect of the project. They've traveled the route many times and can guide one safely along.
Despite the title, consider this an advanced lesson in Microcorporation Design. It is likely you will eventually tire of your work. While others fester and languish in their self-designed prisons, you will have graduated from the role of Master to that of Advisor. You will exist outside the workflow while those you've cultivated combine Theory with Responsibility and Experience to form their own Subject Mastery. The machine is viable. Congratulations. You may now return to the Earth...
Returning to Earth.
Your business may be ten years old. It may be two years old. You've seen the cycle enough times to know nearly all of its reasonable permutations. You've Eliminated, Automated, Deligated your Microcorp to every end and the Machine no longer needs you. So you return to the Earth, the Source, the Reason for Existance; you return to the Clients.
Understanding your client is the most basic, and the most advanced concept of Microcorp design. The Machine may not need you to operate anymore, but that does not make your application ineffective. RMs educate themselves about a client's problems, and educate the client in turn about solutions. Which interaction will make you commit? Prepared lines and flip-chart recitations from a trained monkey, or solid options from someone who's walked the walk?
I am not a Salesman, this is a Solution, not a Sell.
Things to remember:
1) Nothing is truly impossible, just impossibly expensive.
2) Client interaction is NOT the same as Client interruption.
I am not talking about cold calling, nor am I suggesting you man the switchboard. FAQ's can be handled by your website and reception service. I in no way advocate spending a moment more than necessary. Remember, You're the Big Kahuna tasked to determine if new client "Steve" is worthy. A script I've had surprisingly great response to is:
"Hi, Steve. This is Big Kahuna, founder of Kahuna Industries. I'm interested in your situation. Take two minutes and tell me what's going on. I'm listening." And after two minutes. "I believe I've got the picture, Steve. Thank you. We can take care of this for you (a). We'll set you up with an X, a Y and a Z (b). It's going to cost $550 and take about a week (c), if that fits into you're time and financial budget, I'll transfer you back to reception and we'll take your info and schedule you in. I'll have Karen and her assistant working on your matter, directly. They've done plenty of these before, but I'll be advising them on your specific situation."
That's it. I'm talking about building a relationship from the front door, here. What do you think Steve's going to think after getting a three-minute chat with Big Kahuna, Founder of Kahuna Industries; what do you think he'll tell his friends?
No one is looking for Sales, they're looking for Solutions. One day you'll grow out of machine development and into machine promotion just as you grew out of operation and into development. It's the natural cycle. "Steve" may be a walk-in client, or he may be a multinational corporation. I've advised sending CEOs and Lead Engineers on Rock-band type tours across the nation, blowing trade show slickers away with Genuine client interaction, Excess removed. There's really nothing that sells better than the guy who decided to make Product-X or Service-Y his life's work.
Meet your clients early. Engage them. Teach and Learn from them. Don't waste time, but invest your time creating a plan. Microcorp is all about keeping you in touch with the things that matter most - The Clients.