How the sugar-plum fairy can help you to engage with prospective new clients


Mike during his “dancing years”. Ah, the memories.

Years ago we were on a family holiday in Menorca at the sort of place that families with a shortage of disposable cash tend to go: cheap and cheerful. One evening we were sitting having a drink whilst the Animation team (mostly Germans and aspiring actresses from England) were entertaining the kids and then I heard those fateful words “OK kids go and get your mum or dad and bring them up here on stage”.

My sons rushed over and dragged me up along with several other hapless and slightly tipsy adults. I can still see the sly smile on the lips of the head honcho as he said “vell done kids you can all seet down now. Get ze costumes guys!” at which point the rest of his merry troupe arrived on stage with various “amusing” costumes. To cut a cringe-worthy story short I ended up dressed as a sugar-plum fairy complete with pink tutu and magic wand doing various dance moves on stage much to the cruel delight of the audience.

Now, you may be wondering, how can this help me engage with my clients? Fair question so let me elucidate. Imagine if the so-called Animation team had stood on stage and said “we now want a number of adults to come on stage so that we can ritually humiliate them for the delight and delectation of the audience”. Not many takers I’d guess so what they used was a decoy, a sort of trick really but it worked.

To do this in sales you use a thing called a Latch key. In short it’s a product or service designed to engage the target in a low risk and low-cost kind of way. Once you have the engagement you can dispense with the Latch Key and focus on moving the sale process forward.

Here are a couple of examples and then I’ll give you a check-list of conditions you can apply to any possible Latch Keys to measure their strength.

  • Phone Apps.  An easy one to start.  Anybody with a smart phone will be used to down-loading a free “lite” version of an app and then being reminded every time that they use it that they can update to the full-fat version for a fee. This approach creates engagement between the user and the product which will often lead to a sale even though they may not have been prepared to buy the app in the first place.
  • Methodology. We know a lot about recruitment having been in it for over twenty years and so we also know how the client should organise their internal recruitment capability to make it efficient and highly effective. We brought the two things together into a Latch Key product called Resource Integration. This is an 8 step methodology that will transform the recruitment function of any company to a) be as effective as it is possible to be; b) be entirely bespoke towards the needs of the client and c) be designed to change as the needs of the business change. We offered it on a risk and reward basis and won new clients with it.

The following list describes Latch Key characteristics; the more that apply the stronger it is: -

  1. They look like a real product or service offering. They have supporting collateral and are present on your website.
  2. They add real value to your clients. They solve a problem or help to capitalise upon an opportunity.
  3. You are able to deliver them for free or on a risk or reward basis. Budget restrictions can prevent engagement.
  4. They are very low-cost for you to provide. You may not charge for them so cheap is good.
  5. They are unique or uncommon. If everybody provides them they won’t work.
  6. They are easy to engage with. If it’s a hassle the recipient probably won’t bother.
  7. There is a tangible result. Something the recipient can touch even if it’s it only a report.
  8. There should be no risk for the recipient. Just like hassle, risk is the kiss of death for a Latch Key

In my opinion if you’re in sales and you don’t have two or three latch Keys at your disposal you are not only making life a good deal harder than it needs to be, but you also at a distinct disadvantage to your competitor down the road who does have some.

Latch Keys open doors for you in more than one sense of the words!

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Passionate about making business development a profession not just a job. Built and sold a £40m group in less than 9 years. Doing it all again and loving it!

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Posted in Business Development, Differentiation, New Business, Relationships, Sales Conversion

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Mike Ames

Passionate about making business development a profession not just a job. Built and sold a £40m group in less than 9 years. Doing it all again and loving it!

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