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.
In the last post we talked about how to learn about your “big fish” and prepare for the first contact you’ll make with them. This first contact is essential to your success. You need to instill confidence in them. They need to know you can fulfill exactly what you are offering on time, at a good price, and at the quality you promise.
Today we’ll actually go through the big approach and how to make that perfect first impression. Before you put together your approach plan, you need to choose which big fish you’re going after. Take a look at your notes and the research you’ve done about prospective fish. Then decide which one will be the easiest approach to start out with.
There are a series of things to go through in choosing which fish to start with. They are:
- Position Your Business
- Compile Your Hit List
- Select the Best Target
Position Your Business
You need to position your business to make the first move by listing your revenue streams, your operational procedures, where your “big fish” is initially positioned, your big-customer research, and putting it all together.
Compile Your Hit List
Start with a list of all the businesses you’ve been considering. Then narrow it down to the ones who know could use your products or services. Don’t overlook obvious choices, whether they are big or small. Even small businesses could be big fish in the future.
Select the Best Target
Once you’ve got your list narrowed down, you need to decide which one is the best fish to start with. You need to consider a couple of things:
- Which have the most purchasing resources to spend?
- Does their company vision compliment yours?
- What are their employee incentive programs as they relate to your products/services?
- What’s the company’s real need for you?
- Will the partnership lead you off-course
Now you should have a target in mind to start with. It’s time to plan your approach and execute that plan.
Here’s the step-by-step plan to help you make a good first impression:
- Build and analyze your database. Divide your leads into three different categories: hot leads, great fits, and secondary leads.
- Send out introductory mailings to your target to introduce yourself, your company, services, products, and vision. They need to be short, clean, and concise.
- Follow up with your first phone call 2-3 days after they would have received the mailings. During the phone call find out whom you need to be speaking with in the future and try to set up a meet with the right person.
- Follow up your phone call with another mailing that thanks them for taking the time to speak with you and offer more details about your products/services. Use this letter and opportunity to set up a meeting to do a presentation.
- Follow up the letter with another phone call a couple of days after they would have received the letter. This phone call is to help you further develop your relationship with the prospective client. You should also be able to set up a presentation meeting with them.
- Call again a week later if they haven’t agreed to a meeting or presentation. Ask if they received your creative letter (the second one) and if they have a minute when you can stop by and introduce yourself in person.
Now, don’t be upset if you don’t seal the deal right away. Some people simply take a little longer to get to yes. This can all be a little intimidating at first, but when you know you are offering a quality product/service, you can’t go wrong.
Once you’ve gone through this process and make first contact (and hopefully a good first impression) it’s time to put your best face forward, which means sending the right salesperson to seal the deal.
If you need help putting together your approach and make a good first impression, try our FREE test drive to work with a coach and have access to a wealth of great resources and tools.