Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Know Your Customer

Guest Blog

John Daly
Looking to get a job or advance your career with a new position? Want to secure that long-term customer that will cement your future? Whether you are seeking a job or clients, my advice holds true and can be applied for both.  

Think of getting a job as a sales pitch. 

During my 40+ years working in the event business and managing six companies, I’ve discovered techniques that work well with everyone, particularly the top Fortune 100 companies that were on-going clients with John Daly International Inc. I looked for the specific techniques below in the exceptional people that I hired and trained.

Make Sure All Means of Communication Are Presented in a Professional Manner
That goes to all forms of digital communications, including email, social media, and voice mail. Emails should be written as well as a proper letter. Don’t make people guess at your meaning. Don’t include anything on social media that you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see. So photos of you partying shouldn’t be posted! Voice mail should be professional in tone. Use something like, “This is John Daly. I am sorry that I am unable to take your call right now, but please leave me a message and your contact information, and I will return your call promptly.” I am totally turned off when someone answers the phone with just “hello.” I’d prefer, “Hello, this is John Daly.” Again, don’t make anyone guess who has answered the phone. And when calling, identify yourself immediately. 

You are probably surprised that I am including this information in my list of techniques, but you’d be surprised at how much unprofessional communication I have received over the years! And, if prospective employees couldn’t communicate with me on a professional level, they weren’t for me. So, imagine how your customers will feel.

Tailor Your Resume for the Job
As a hiring manager, I want to see not just your experience but what concrete deliverables you’ve provided to previous companies. If you are going for a first-time job, I want to see what traits you possess that would be of benefit to me. For instance, are you a team player? Do you have great design skills? Are you good with budgets and numbers? Are you organized? Are you detail oriented? Do you see where I’m going with this? Paint a picture of who you are and what you bring to my table. In other words, emphasize your strengths and how hiring you will solve problems for the company, and focus on that during the interview. If you are making a proposal, which is basically the company’s resume, to a prospective client, make sure you are solving the problems important to that customer.

Research the Company
Know the prospective employer’s (or customer’s) mission statement, its purpose, the management, and have specific goals of what you can achieve within the company. Don’t go in blind. Find out everything that you can about the company. That means Internet research and talking to current employees (if you know any of them) and getting a good grasp about the company environment.

Have 3 Questions Prepared to Ask the Hiring Manager
A hiring manager (or decision maker) will always ask you if you have any questions. Never, and I mean never, say “no.” Have your three questions prepared that show you have done your homework and are on the ball.

Tailor Your Appearance to “Fit In” to the Company Environment.
I’m going to share a personal experience that will make it clear why this is important. I was young and starting my business. I was going to make a very large presentation to my first big client, Delta Airlines, that I hoped would win me long-term business with the company. Now, I was a designer, and suits and ties weren’t my thing. At the time, I thought I was dressed for success if I wore a silk shirt! But I noticed other people my age were wearing suits and ties to large corporate presentations. So, I did some research and realized that the Delta corporate dress code required me to wear the dreaded suit and tie. I did it to make them feel comfortable with me. 

As I got into my presentation, I began waving my hands around (those of you who have been in my classes know that I talk with my hands) and describing the event, and they were all smiles. At one point, I stopped and asked if I could take off my coat. They said “yes” and took off theirs as well. I went on to tell them how during the event a large jet would appear and blow their guests away. . . my enthusiasm increased and drew them into my story. . . taking them away with me.

I got the job and spent the next decade producing events for them. But, I initially made them comfortable with me by dressing as they did so that I could later let my personality win them over. If I had gone in with a colorful silk shirt, they wouldn’t have gotten past my appearance; I wouldn’t have had credibility in their eyes.

It’s important to realize that over- as well as under-dressing send strong messages. Being under-dressed says you are not interested in the interview or presentation. So over-dressing is a better option for the interview/presentation process. Just remember to practice the K.I.S.S. method!

How to Follow-Up
Before you leave the interview/presentation, ask the hiring manager (decision maker) when the company will be making a decision and if it is acceptable to call at that time. Follow up with a hand-written thank you reminding the hiring manager of why you would be great for the job and that you are looking forward to potentially working with the company. Check back via a phone call around the time the decision should be made. Be professional, respectful and polite!

ACTION ITEM: Try these methods for your next interview or presentation. Good luck!

John Daly is currently retired from the event business but founded The Key Class three years ago to teach young people and unemployed adults job readiness skills. Through Partners in Education, he currently teaches at all of the high schools in Santa Barbara County, as well as Boys & Girls Clubs, Teen Court for at-risk teens, the United Way and other organizations. Visit The Key Class to learn more about its activities.

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