Your Next Customer ISN’T buying –how Ted’s Fly Fishing Shop treated prospects

This blog often talks about the tools and technologies that companies can use, the same principles apply to real-life, and how we treat the next customer.

Last night, I had dinner and drinks over at my Uncle’s friend’s place. Ted, who’s already retired, shared some of his wisdom with me regarding running a business. His business? he launched a silicon valley startup right in the heart of the valley, but the thing was, it has nothing to do with tech. In fact, he had run a fly fishing shop in San Mateo for 15 years, and knows what it’s like to run a startup. Like most startups in the valley, it’s a combination of ambition, risk, and all passion.

The most meaningful story, which I’m now sharing with you, explained how he treated prospects. Three gentleman used to visit his fly fishing shop, yet they didn’t have enough money to purchase the gear or attend any of the exclusive trips accustomed to the fly fishing community, yet Ted welcomed them in. They were encouraged to be part of the shop’s community, hang out in the store, and at least live the dream –even if from afar.

Three years had passed and the gentlemen kept on returning, the small software company, which the three gents co-owned, eventually was sold. Each of the three were worth about $11 million dollars –each! There was no way to predict these guys would have ‘made it’ for their company when Ted invited them to hang and be part of the club.

They came back specifically to thank Ted, for letting them hang out in his ‘club house’, even though they couldn’t afford to purchase any of the gear or excursions at the time. Over the next few years, they purchased 3 exclusive excursions per year, helping Ted grow his business from a 11k net to a million dollar yearly business. (and yes they had a website).

Lessons learned

1) You never know which one of your guests will become your big customers, treat everyone as a top customer.

2) Those who are interested in your products, invite them in, let them be part of your community. This applies to the web as well.

What about Ted? He’s now happily retired, with all the creature comforts as well as friends and family, and couldn’t be wealthier. So back to you. How are you treating your prospects? Do you give them the same amount of benefits and respect as customers? How can websites align with this strategy

  • http://derrickkwa.blogspot.com Derrick Kwa

    Great story. Really good lesson.

    Just thought I should point out, though. You have a typo error. “There was know way to predict….” That should be “no”, not “know”, right? =).

  • http://www.shashi.name Shashi Bellamkonda

    Jeremiah,

    This is the way I treat eveybody as a potential investment in my life. great story and a lesson that many coproratio shave perfected.

    Shashi

  • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

    Shashi

    Thanks, I fixed that.

  • http://geekmommy.wordpress.com/ yndy

    It’s a good premise for all of our dealings with other people, not just business prospects…
    The guy you cut off in the parking lot may be the guy interviewing you for the job you want – or it could be instead that guy you held the elevator door for.

  • http://www.jbspartners.com Jim Spencer

    You mentioned passion in the intro. That seems to be really key. If you love what you are doing, you will welcome those that have interest.

    There seem to be times when the profit motive clouds good judgment and common sense and causes businesses to not recognize what just walked in the door.

    Sounds like the Golden Rule might just live on!

  • http://www.podtech.net jennifer jones

    Jeremiah, thanks for taking the time to tell us about the people in your life. It is always fun to read and learn.

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  • http://www.twinlakes.com.au Fly fishing trips to Tasmania

    Great  information Really good lesson to learn invite them in, let them be part of your community.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jagadguru-Kripaluji-Maharaj-Radha-Krishn-Devotees/156045226460 Kripaluji Maharaj

    This is what you call potential-ism. One should always use it in the same way as explained. Tremendous one! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jagadguru-Kripaluji-Maharaj-Radha-Krishn-Devotees/156045226460 Kripaluji Maharaj

    This is what you call potential-ism. One should always use it in the same way as explained. Tremendous one! 

  • http://www.twinlakes.com.au/ fishing tasmania

    I’m looking at a rod to use for casual fishing maybe medium to large fish whatever bites.