Last time we talked about the first three areas to work through in maximizing your current resources:
- Recognize the obvious
- Unconventional breakthroughs
- Face the facts
Today we’ll cover the next three:
- Reveal your business’ soul
- From breaking even to breaking the bank
- Stand up and stand out
Reveal Your Business’ Soul
Every business has a “soul” and you likely felt it the strongest when your business was just starting. It’s that passion, newness and momentum you had at the very beginning. Sometimes that can get lost along the way as your business gets stagnant and set in its ways. You have to break out of that rut and get back to your business’ true soul.
The philosophy of putting your client’s needs above your own is the true key to success. You need to serve your clients not sell to them. They want to build a relationship based on trust, not a used car. Add to these responsibilities your ability to solve problems, handle special situations, be a friend to your clients and focus on offering valuable, high quality products/services. Only then will you get back to the basics and find you have more resources than you thought.
From Breaking Even to Breaking the Bank
One of the classic and most used ways to attract clients is to offer them a ridiculously low price on their initial purchase and lock them in for future purchases. You see this approach with movie or book clubs and even credit card companies who offer lower interest rates for the first six months.
Essentially, you are offering them a deal on their first purchase and then you offer them back-end and add-on products along the way. These are naturally higher prices and will bring them in to more of an intimate relationship with you and your company.
Stand Up and Stand Out
You need to stand out from the pack among your competitors. They only way you can do this through consistency and value. You do this by discovering what your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is and perfecting it. Here are some tips to help you find and develop your USP:
- Look for unfilled needs in your industry.
- Use preemptive marketing.
- Use a technique that is clear and to the point.
This wraps up this post. If you need help with any of these areas and techniques, try our FREE test drive to access a wealth of resources and tools.
The last two posts covered the first four of the killer mistakes you can make that will not only make you lose your biggest client(s), but possibly your entire company. Today we’re going to talk about the fifth killer mistake: “Up Cash Creek Without a Paddle.”
Even when business is good, there’s still a chance of running out of cash. You have to always be prepared for a slow in sales or a surge in expenses. One of the keys to balancing your cash flow is to get your clients to pay on time. This can seem like a nightmare but is absolutely essential to a successful business.
Here are some tips to speed up the payment process:
- Always send invoices on time and adjust your records for potential audits.
- Learn how the client processes payments on their side and find out precisely where to send invoices.
- Find out who’s in charge of processing orders and payment, so you know who to contact if needed.
- Have a follow-up procedure in place, just in case.
- As a last resort, call your contact to ask questions.
- Always make sure your invoices are correct before sending them out.
You also need to make sure your cash flow is protected. You can do this by:
- Always know which accounts need paid and when.
- Negotiate with your suppliers for the lowest cost possible.
- Have a bank contingency plan in place.
- Build your own investor network.
These are all great ways to protect the cash flow of your business and prepare for slow client transitions and slow sales. These last few lessons are all about finding and catching your “big fish” clients. These clients are essential to your success, and you need to take the time to work through each of these steps carefully and correctly for the best success.
If you need help with any step of the process of catching your “fish” or subsequent big clients, try our FREE test drive for access to a wealth of great tools and resources as well as our business coaching staff.
In the last post we covered the first two of the 5 biggest mistakes you can make in dealing with bigger clients. Today we’ll cover the third and fourth ones: Taking on More Than You Can Handle.
When you take on too much, your business can’t keep up and therefore you can easily lose control of everything and find yourself barely functioning. You want your business to be successful, no doubt, but you need to have a plan for how you will handle the growth. Your clients expect great customer service and high-quality products/services, they don’t know or care about your behind-the-scenes operations to get those things done.
Look for these signs that you are taking on more than you can handle:
- Clients’ needs aren’t being met.
- Employee morale is low, clients are upset and you’re in a panic.
- You have to react in emergency mode to save accounts.
- Your current clients are suffering from trying to keep up with new business.
- Profits are going down.
- You are just trying to pick up the pieces of your business.
- Your clients/customers leave.
- Resources are being reallocated.
There is a trick called the Mock Client Plan. This plan can help you react positively when you are facing some or all of these things and help you get your business back on track.
This plan will:
- Help increase sales in a short period of time.
- Alter your products/services for the better.
- Fulfill promises you made to your clients.
There are six steps to this plan:
- Bring in your best team and have them all help to meet the client’s needs.
- Review your operational system.
- Anticipate future problems better.
- Communicate better.
- Include costs in your quotes.
- Always have a back-up plan.
All Your Eggs in One Basket
You may unwittingly begin to allow your company to become dependent on just one or two clients. Eventually or for certain periods there is going to be a slowing down period with a client. To stay in the game, you need to diversify.
If you’ve ever mishandled a client, you could drive away potential client as well. In order to keep balance and prepare for a strong future, there are a few things you can do.
These things include:
- Stay in the loop and try to know what’s going on inside your client’s company.
- Constantly reinvent yourself and stay at the top of your industry.
- Stay exclusive.
- Try to secure multi-year commitments and contracts.
- Spread your contracts out.
- Price your products/services correctly.
You also need to work to reduce your dependency on just one or two clients. This can generally be measured in sales or profits. Take a look back at the process we’ve used thus far to snag more clients to keep this all-in balance.
These are the ways you can help avoid the killer mistakes that can make you lose it all. If you need help with any of these tips or tricks, try our FREE test drive to get the help you need fast.
Next time we’ll talk about the last of the killer mistakes and how to combat it from hitting your business hard.
There are 5 big mistakes that will kill a deal with a big client:
- Not meeting the client’s expectations
- Mishandling a client crisis
- Taking on more than you can handle
- Putting all your eggs in one basket
- Up cash creek without a paddle
Any one or combination of these can not only kill the partnership but have the ability to take down your company as well. We’re going to take a bit of time to talk about each one of these, in this lesson we’ll cover the first two.
Not Meeting Client’s Expectations
It’s essential you give your clients exactly what you promised during the negotiation portion of your relationship. If an event does happen where there is no way to meet the client’s expectations, not only do you have to find a way to fix the situation, but you also have to find out where it all went wrong.
A couple of things could have contributed to this problem:
- Bad salesmanship. This could mean the salesperson was trying too hard to seal the deal and didn’t listen to the client’s needs.
- Lack of communication. This breakdown occurs between the salesperson and your operations department.
In order to avoid these mistakes, you need to put a clear plan of action into place that all of your sales staff needs to follow:
- Think before you speak.
- Give yourself a break.
- Perfect your process.
- Pre-format over-deliverables.
- Stay hands-on throughout the entire process.
- Define success.
Mishandling a Client Crisis
Crises will happen, but how you respond and fix them will define your company and interaction with your clients. You need to respond quickly and effectively. This will help you gain even more trust and confidence from your client.
Some simple tips can help you deal with any client crisis:
- Take responsibility and apologize no matter who is at fault.
- Act swiftly and effectively.
- Step in and take control of the situation.
- Never point fingers or place blame.
- Stay in constant communication with your client.
- Stay calm throughout the situation.
- Keep your eye on the ball.
Now, that you know the top two mistakes you can make to kill a big client deal, you’ll know better how to avoid making these mistakes in the first place and know how to put a plan of action into place in case of a crisis.
If you need help with any of this, try our FREE test drive to get all the help you could ever need.
Next time we’ll talk about the 3rd and 4th killer mistake you can make in working with big fish clients.
In the last post we started our series on catching big clients, or “big fish,” that will sustain your business over the long run. Today we’re going to take that a step further by talking about how to understand and think like a big fish company and how that can help you plan your approach and find success.
Before you can start the process of landing big clients, you have to make sure your entire team is onboard with your approach and vision. There are six keys to finding big client success. They are:
- First Impression: You must remember you have one shot to land a big client. If you make a mistake, they aren’t going to consider you again. Never give them a reason to doubt your abilities.
- First Priority: Your fish must always feel like they are your first priority. Returns calls and emails immediately and find solutions to their problems or questions as quickly as possible.
- Flexible: You need to be flexible in your negotiations. If they need a special service or for you to customize a product, say yes for the benefit of the long term. A little hassle now will be a big pay-off later.
- Long-term: This goes along with the last one a bit. As you are approaching and negotiating with big fish you need to think about the long-term benefits for your business. If you go for a ones-time big score you will lose their interest.
- Have Fun: Work should be fun, even when trying to land big clients. In fact, this should be the most fun. You are sharing your vision with new people and including them in your future success and likewise. People simply work better in a fun, happy environment. Your passion will also be contagious and pull the fish into your vision even more.
- Help Them: If you take just a little bit of time and offer your clients ways to save money or time by introducing them to potential business partners, this will show you really are invested and interested in their business. Strive to find balance between your business needs and your client’s needs.
There are also a few tactics you can use to bring in a big-company vision to the people on your team. You can:
- Post these six keys for all to see.
- Put together a performance based incentive program.
- Conduct frequent team meetings.
- Use a “right now” policy that dictates big fish calls be answered immediately.
- Offer awards/recognition for big-company ideas and executions.
- Put together a training and certification program based on the six keys above.
These 6 keys and tips will help you instill a big-company mindset through your company which will help you be more prepared and more likely to land your big fish. Once your team is thinking this way, you’ll be unstoppable.
If you need help putting together an incentive program or other way to push your team toward the big-company mindset, try our FREE test drive to work with one of our coaches or check out our resources and tools.