Knowing something about your customer is just as important as knowing your product

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On a national sports radio program recently, the two talk show hosts were discussing star quarterback Peyton Manning and the enormous impact he is having in his new football home, Denver. They mentioned that Manning had already learned the entire playbook, but even more interesting was the fact that he learned the names of the entire press group and knows as much as he could about them and their families. One show host opined how "brilliant" that was of Manning, and what is most impressive is that he took the time to read and find out as much information as he could.

Perhaps he does this because he knows the value of scouting reports, which colleges and major sports leagues use to assess their competition and draft choices.

I don't know if Peyton Manning is familiar with the Mackay 66-Question Customer Profile, which I wrote about in my book, "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive."

However, Manning certainly knows the power that it yields when used properly to build relationships.

I have been preaching about the power of the Mackay 66 for my entire career. It's a tool to help you humanize your selling strategy. To be successful in life - and especially in sales - you must have a deep-down burning desire to help people. Studies show that you can't talk business all the time. Your customers are people first!

I developed this 66-question customer profile when I was 21 years old. (The Mackay 66 is available for free on my website - At MackayMitchell Envelope Company we require all of our sales people to fill it out about each of their customers.

You wouldn't believe how much we know about our customers. The IRS wouldn't believe how much we know about our customers.

And I'm not talking about their taste in envelopes either. We want to know, based on routine conversation and observation, what our customers are like as human beings. What they feel strongly about? What they are most proud of having achieved? Any status symbols in their office? In other words, we want to know the person behind the desk.

And remember ... this is not just for our customers. It's also for our suppliers. We want the best paper suppliers in the country. We want the best ink suppliers.

Use the Mackay 66 for employees and competitors - anyone whom you can benefit from knowing more about. Each time you encounter those persons, you learn a little bit more about them and keep building your list. You will probably never fill out all 66 items, but 30 are better than 20, and 15 are better than 10, things like education (high school and college), family (married, kids and names), anniversary, hobbies and interests, favorite sports teams, vacation habits, previous employment, professional and trade associations, clubs, and so on.

Question number 66 - Does your competitor have more and better answers to the above questions than you have?

The Mackay 66 is a concept, philosophy and tool. You still must perform. But perform and build a good relationship and you not only get the order, you get all the reorders.

You simply cannot know enough about your customers, employees, suppliers and competitors.

Here's a story that dates back about one hundred years that illustrates the importance of noticing the little things and knowing your audience.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, was quite impressed with the observational powers of a cab driver who picked him up at the train station after a vacation in the south of France. As he stepped into the cab and put his suitcase on the seat next to him, the driver surprised him by asking him, "Where would you like to go, Mr. Doyle?"

Doyle was surprised that he knew his name, and asked whether they had ever met before. The driver said no, which prompted Doyle to ask how he knew who he was.

The driver replied, "This morning's paper had a story about you being on vacation in Marseilles. This is the taxi stand where people who return from Marseilles always come to.

Your skin color tells me that you have been on vacation. The ink spot on your right index finger suggests to me that you are a writer. Your clothing is very English, and not French. Adding up all those pieces of information, I deduce that you are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle."

"That, and your name is on your suitcase."

Mackay's Moral: People don't care how much you know about them ... once they realize how much you care about them.


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