The number one tool for marketing is the handshake and a smile. It costs zero to extend the hand and use a few facial muscles. But the value it generates is priceless. Pretty much all business relationships begin this way. The handshake and smile is the most effective marketing tool available at all levels of business.
To understand the value the handshake and smile brings to a business relationship, put yourself in the shoes of the potential business contact or customer. Enthusiasm is like a disease, it spreads with ease. As a small business owner, I’m sure you have had many encounters with others. Which ones do you remember well? I’m pretty confident the handshakes with strong smiles and a fair grip were the ones that started long term relationships.
I personally feel that I have had over 3,000 encounters in my many years of business relationships. Of those, I remember well about a dozen from the moment we met. The recipient of my extended hand had a much warmer smile and a warm greeting. They often caught me at a bad moment and would make light of the situation breaking the ice. In one encounter, I had started the day with mismatched socks – one of those rushing out the door moments. The client asked which color was my favorite. He pointed at my feet and had me lift my pant legs up. Sure enough, mismatched socks! I was at a loss for words, so he proceeded to state that at least he never had mismatched socks, he only wore white. It turned into a long term relationship and I still provide advice to him today. So now when I meet someone new, I look for some detail to break the ice and find some form of basis to begin the relationship. It could be a lapel pin, the logo on his hat, the type of shoes he wears, or even his haircut. Since I’m bald, I can always fall back on the ‘at least you have hair’ introduction.
Now that the ice is broken, it is time to create the relationship. Look for clues in the initial contact, where they are from, schools attended, organizations they belong to. Make the connection to you and then maybe find a commonality of an individual to create some form of a bond. Once this bond is made, transfer the conversation to the business at hand. Be enthusiastic and demonstrate pride in what you do and the sale will make itself. People want to be comfortable and have a connection to the person they deal with in life. The greater the bond between the two of you, the easier it will be to make a sale or create a long-term business relationship.
The handshake and smile are about creating relationships. Relationships last a lifetime and bring more than just financial gain; they bring a sense of family and mutual support. Act on Knowledge.
If you have any comments or questions, e-mail me at dave (insert the usual ‘at’ symbol) businessecon.org. I would love to hear from you. If interested in my services as an accountant/consultant; click on ‘My Services‘ in the footer of this article.