November 2014

The Power of Wow! Win new customers and grow your business

Author: Greg Bennett

If you want to survive and thrive as a business owner in a competitive economy, you better learn the power of wow, and how to “make wow happen” on a regular basis. What is “wow”? Something that makes your prospect or your customer say (maybe even out loud) “Wow…I didn’t expect that!” Wows are wonderful. Wows show you care. Wows can quickly and powerfully separate you from the competition. And wows can help you create the Holy Grail of marketing—raving advocates (vs satisfied customers) who will actively look for ways to tell everyone they know about you and your business.

A real world example
I was recently shopping for a small meeting room at local hotels. The workshop I was planning was for 20 or so people, nothing big, and no accompanying room nights (something hotels find valuable). In other words, I didn’t represent a huge piece of business. So I received the same sort of treatment from 99 percent of the hotels I visited: I arrive, someone from hotel catering comes out, hands me a hotel information packet and a card, and I take a quick tour of the various meeting rooms. At the end of visit, the salesperson attempts a weak close, “So what do you think?”, and I respond with an equally weak, “Let me think about it and let you know.” I found the same exact process at every hotel—except for one.

One hotel and one hotel GM took an ordinary process and turned it into a wow moment. It was a Doubletree Hotel near my hometown in Colorado.

I was running late for my appointment, so I called and told the saleswoman that I’d be there in about 10 minutes. She said no problem, she’d be ready. I quickly parked, grabbed my notepad, and walked toward the entrance to the lobby, fully expecting the normal song and dance to commence. But something else awaited. It started with a long red carpet rolled out the front door and onto the sidewalk. At first I thought it was just part of the hotel entrance until I walked through the double doors. There in front of me was the entire staff of the hotel with a big sign saying, “Welcome Greg Bennett Sales Training!” and everyone at once exclaiming “Welcome!” I was speechless. I honestly thought I was like the thousandth customer, or maybe I’d walked in by accident when they were expecting the governor or some celebrity. No, it was just for me, a prospect looking for a small meeting room.

After booking my meeting room there, I asked the GM about his “wow moment” and how he pulled it off. He said they do this for every person looking for a meeting space, from a small business looking for meeting space to brides looking for reception areas, to big conferences looking for large rooms and multiple room nights. “We call it a scramble,” he said. “All available employees—me, bartenders, maids, or back office people—gather with a big sign we create to welcome people to look at our hotel. It shows we’re different even before we get the business.”

By the way, it’s no accident that the GM’s title on his card is “Manager of First Impressions.” I’ve shared that story several times over the years in workshops with business owners and sales managers, and I always get the same reaction. Everyone loves the concept and may even have some ideas on how they could wow people in their world. They just aren’t sure how to pull it off on a regular basis. They get back to their offices and start thinking about the logistics, the training, the time, the perceived hassles, etc. and, in the end, most (99 percent) end up dropping the idea altogether. That’s okay. Part of the magic of wowing is being the one percent that’s unique and memorable.

Five tips for creating wow moments
1. Seek to wow in small ways that make a big impact. Most companies interact with customers the same way or close to the same way; this is your chance to do it differently. If every waiter asks about dessert after customers have eaten, why not ask about it before? If every auto body shop has customers come and pick up their car, why not offer to drop it off at their office or home?

2. Design simple, easy-to-execute wows. One of the mistakes want-to-be-wow-creators make is they make it too complicated. If it takes a huge effort, or multiple steps, or just the right conditions to create a wow moment, it may be too difficult to pull off on a regular basis. Look for wows that can happen quickly without a great deal of training. The GM at the Doubletree said they simply send a text out to every available employee three minutes before a prospect arrives and, if the employees are able, they drop what they’re doing, assemble at the door and yell, “Welcome!”

3. Make sure your brand and culture support the wows. If your brand and culture aren’t steeped in an attitude of valuing customer relationships, then the wow moments won’t matter. In fact, they may be a negative. For example, if after the wow welcome everyone at the Doubletree had been nasty, rude, or indifferent, or if the place had been dirty and unkempt, I would have thought “You can drop the big welcome if you don’t really care about quality everywhere else.”

4. Promote your wows. Look for ways to highlight how you wow. Talk it up. Take and post pictures. Promote wows on your website and in social media. Get testimonials from customers who have been wowed.

5. Train, educate, and reward your people around the wows. Once you make wow moments your “thing,” build your employee training around executing the wows with excellence and gusto! Nothing is worse than watching a bored employee going through a memorized script about something that’s supposed to make an establishment fun: “Hi, and welcome to the House of Fun (yawn)…we can’t wait to help you…have fun.” The attitude and practice of wow has to start at the top, with ownership and management getting involved in whatever you’re doing to create it.

The key to success in a crowded market is differentiation. What makes you totally unique and interesting to clients? The answer may lie in the here and wow!

Greg Bennett is a nationally renowned sales and business author, speaker, trainer, and coach. For information on his programs, visit

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