There are 28 million small businesses in the United States. If you sell products to small businesses, that sounds like a pretty good number. If you’re competing against other small business, that number suggests you’ll find stiff competition wherever you look. With all that competition, what are you doing to stand out from the crowd? How do you connect with a potential client in a way they’ll remember you in a positive way?

Here are some ideas:

Be creative in gaining the potential client’s attention

When Maria Silva, a radio rep for a small record label in Austin, couldn’t get a local disc jockey to even return an email from her, she changed tactics. “I felt like he had one of the greatest mustaches I’ve ever seen, so I went to a trophy store, ordered one with a big cup on it, and wrote on the plaque, ‘Mustache of the Year Award.’ He responded as soon as he got it. We’re friends now.”

Connect the dots between you and the client

connect dot
One of the quickest and easiest ways to hit it off with someone is to find something in common. It might be a shared hometown, a favorite Sunday brunch restaurant or even some obscure hobby like collecting flashlights. Whatever it is, once you find it, drive it home.

Listen, don’t talk

As we’ve pointed out before, people like talking about themselves, so let them. Indeed, encourage it by coming up with great questions to ask. As with our keys to becoming a better salesperson, letting the prospective client talk is much more effective than you talking enough for the two of you.

Leave them with something they’ll never forget

pie

(ThinkStock.com)

Tama Tappan, co-founder of a Nashville educational company called A Novel Idea, has a unique way of thanking individuals and businesses who have had a positive impact on the company: with handwritten notes…and homemade pies. “It’s certainly not a typical thank-you gesture,” Tappan admits, “but one that stays behind long after I walk out the door. A ‘sweet’ reminder of how important I thought they were.” And it seems to be working. “Recently, after confirming a meeting,” Tappan continued, “the owner said, ‘Tama, I’m looking forward to meeting you. May I ask if there will be a pie involved?’”