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 talked about negotiating with your big fish and how to nurture and build on the relationships you are creating. Today we’ll talk about the power your fish has and how to utilize that for your benefit.
One of the most important aspects of this is to keep your cheerleader cheering. This refers to the ally you created in the company and who needs to stay loyal to you for you to continue a profitable partnership with your fish. You can keep your champion going by offering or doing a number of things to show appreciation. Some of these things are:
- Share the limelight.
- Help them thank their company with new products and services.
- Emotionally connect them to your company.
- Know when to leave them alone.
- Keep your “family” happy.
- Stay on the front lines.
Now that you have some ideas of how to build solid relationships, you need to seek out people to build these relationships with. These alliances will help you get bigger clients that stay with you forever. You can often get in the door by offering them something in exchange for something they need:
- Better work experience
These are all great ways to feed your alliance. You need to go into a relationship considering the things a big fish can offer you besides money. These can include:
- The opportunity for your business to expand
- The opportunity to learn from the experience and find ways to grow
- The opportunity to improve your processes, systems and other means of doing business
These are some of the best ways to keep your alliances going strong and your partnerships fresh and content.
If you need help with any of these tactics, try our FREE test drive for great tools and resources that can help you every step of the way.
There are a few things you need to do and prepare for your first face-to-face meeting:
- Make a list of what you want to accomplish during the meeting.
- Anticipate potential concerns from the client.
- Check to make sure you are completely prepared.
- Listen more than you talk.
- Bring support staff with you.
- Use and respect the clients’ format.
- Always follow through.
- Ask for what you need and seal the deal.
- Simplify your prospects life.
- Find ways to boost your credibility.
- Build and nurture relationships.
- Learn from “no.” Find out what didn’t work so you know how to change it for the next time.
These are all important things to do both before and during your presentation. With confidence behind your company and product you will catch that big fish. The next step of the process is negotiation. This can seem a little intimidating but with a few tips and tricks can become natural to you.
Here are some tips to help you negotiate successfully:
- Build a pricing strategy and stick with it.
- Prioritize what you plan to offer. This should include what really matters to you and what you are willing to give in on.
- Don’t give in too quickly.
- Negotiated with a person, not a “company.” Don’t let their answer be that they would like to…but can’t.
- Don’t sell yourself short.
- Mitigate your pricing. If you go too low, you won’t be able to raise it back up and you need to make a profit.
- Don’t sacrifice quality for the deal.
- Your services should always count as costs.
- Boost margins with add-ons.
- Handle request for proposals with the utmost care.
These are the ways you make sure that both parties are getting the best possible situation from the partnership. Once you start meeting or working together, it’s important to continue to build your relationship so that the representative becomes as big of an ally that best suits you. They are more likely to vouch for you and build on the partnership you have with their company.
We like to call this person a champion. They are a champion for your company and can bring a stronger, brighter future to your company. Here are the characteristics of a great champion:
- They are respected by supervisors.
- They are socially networked.
- They think in the best interest of their company, long term.
- They are able to quickly navigate through the company to get things done.
- They are willing to give credit to another person.
- They share the same business philosophy, values, and vision as you.
Now, that you know how to negotiate for what is best for both parties and build on relationships, we’re going to talk about how to use your fish’s power to the best of your benefit.
If you need help with any of the negotiation or courting process, try our FREE test drive to get access to a wealth of great tools and resources to help you be successful.