I’m a member of a local chamber of commerce but the companies here are too small to request corporate background checks or due diligence investigations. They also don’t have the need for surveillance investigations. Any advice on how to sell to small business is greatly appreciated.
Chambers, Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, or Business Networks as a whole are tricky to tap into. Most of them are powered by relationships. It’s not a place where you say – “I’m here, give me work.” People who do this are frowned upon. So, this means going out to chamber mixers, local events, joining committees, and playing the game. It’s a lot of networking and relationship building. You’re not “selling” your services, instead, you sell yourself as a friend, colleague, or pier. That’s networking 101 – Inc.com has a great article on networking. They say: Make friends, not connections.
At the end of the day, I would rather work with someone I genuinely connect with over working with someone who treats me like a vendor, and so would you.
Unfortunately, investigation services are not in ultra-high demand. How often do you think that a small business selling shirts from a home office will need a due diligence investigation? How many sexual harassment issues will a family owned business have on the monthly basis? What about employee theft issues between best friends?
When it comes to small businesses, especially very small local ones, they simply don’t have the same problems of a large corporation. They often hire family friends or family members. They’re not going to buy high end investigation services.
So, we need to sell services that fit the local market. You also need to start thinking in terms of products. The only difference is that your product will come in the shape of a solution, and not a t-shirt.
- Don’t sell Surveillance, that’s not a product.
- Surveillance is a tool that you can use to solve a problem.
- The solution to a problem IS your product.
- A business owner is more inclined to buy a product than a tool.
You have to reverse engineer your client’s business to truly understand what they need, and then create a solution for them.
If you own a restaurant, and you have several 1-star reviews, what would you want in order to turn your business around?
- A private investigator to do surveillance on your employees?
- A private investigator who can pretend to be a customer and help me address the issues that other customers are having?
The goal is to give your clients a solution they can see and feel. This will help you build a positive rapport with your friend, and client. Here are a few services that you could offer – hopefully one of them gets your gears turning.
I’ll start with Secret Shopping “Integrity” Services – On the example I mentioned above, this would be Perfect for B2C companies. Track down companies in your area that have negative reviews on Yelp. Contact the owners and tell them that you’d like to offer them secret shopping services to give them recommendations on how to fix their problems.
“You’ve seen undercover boss on TV? That’s what I do, but for small businesses.”
Secret shopping may sound useless. However, if you track down people with negative reviews, you can help them address those reviews by offering them an inward facing solution to help manage their reputation.
Competitive Intelligence – Offer this to a lawn care or service company. Tell them you’ll follow their competition around town and help them collect leads and information on who the competition is working with.
Surveillance and Background Checks = Competitive Intelligence (a product).
Risk Mitigation Services – Perfect for restaurants. Tell the owner you’ll like to see if they have security flaws in their business. Can you get into the kitchen? Did anyone stop you? Etc. Then offer them solutions.
Loss Prevention Services – For stores that sell physical products. What can you do to help them out? How can you minimize their risks? Has the owner considered installing security cameras? Anti-theft devices?
Asset Documentation – Record and document the property that belongs to an owner. Do this once a year. This will protect the company in case they ever have a fire or are burglarized.
These are just a few examples to get your gears turning. Once you have a product in place, don’t sell them on the service, sell them on the benefits, features, protection, or solution that your product brings to the company.
Stop selling me services. Sell me the value that you bring to the table.
Don’t worry about the fact that you’re not making money right away. Eventually a client will need you for the “big” stuff that you’re after.