Category: Target Market

5 Killer Mistakes – Part 3

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 5th 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.

5 Killer Mistakes – Part 2

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:

  1. Bring in your best team and have them all help to meet the client’s needs.
  2. Review your operational system.
  3. Anticipate future problems better.
  4. Communicate better.
  5. Include costs in your quotes.
  6. 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.

5 Killer Mistakes – Part 1

There are 5 big mistakes that will kill a deal with a big client:

  1. Not meeting the client’s expectations
  2. Mishandling a client crisis
  3. Taking on more than you can handle
  4. Putting all your eggs in one basket
  5. 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:

  1. Bad salesmanship. This could mean the salesperson was trying too hard to seal the deal and didn’t listen to the client’s needs.
  2. 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.

Bring Them Flowers

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:

  1. Build a pricing strategy and stick with it.
  2. Prioritize what you plan to offer. This should include what really matters to you and what you are willing to give in on.
  3. Don’t give in too quickly.
  4. Negotiated with a person, not a “company.” Don’t let their answer be that they would like to…but can’t.
  5. Don’t sell yourself short.
  6. 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.
  7. Don’t sacrifice quality for the deal.
  8. Your services should always count as costs.
  9. Boost margins with add-ons.
  10. 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.

Who’s Your MVP?

In the last post we talked about making first contact with your prospective big fish and how to make a positive first impression. Today we’re going to talk about feeling out the personality of your prospective big fish to match your best representative to the fish.

You need to do this in two steps:

  1. Profile the personalities of those who sell for you.
  2. Match the right person to your target fish.

There are essentially three different selling personalities:

  • Sage
  • Pal
  • Pit Bull

The Sage

This salesperson offers knowledge, experience, comfort and trust. They can make a concerned customer feel at ease. In order to be successful, they need plenty of information, a demo of the product/service, references and case studies – if possible.

The Pal

Much like it sounds this is a salesperson that shines at building relationships. They can instantly relate to the prospective client and make them seem like old friends in no time. They work best with clients who are looking for friendship, information and in a similar peer group as the salesperson. This can include anything from age and culture to hobbies and nightlife. While sharing experiences can be beneficial to creating a new relationship, your salesperson must always keep it professional and dignified. The support and resources this personality type needs are help pairing with the right client, entertainment (lunches, etc.) budget, and the right information to meet the client’s needs.

The Pit Bull

Obviously, this personality type is a little more aggressive than the others. They are all about business and the bottom line. While this may seem harsh to a lot of people, there definitely are businesses who want the same thing and respect someone who can get down to business and the benefits of a partnership. This salesperson will need to be trusted with a little authority as they will likely be closing deals on the spot. They’ll need plenty of resources and access to products and services. They are best placed in environments where they can work independently, exercise their authoritative discretion, and seal deals quickly.

Each of these sales personalities can all be successful when each is used in the right selling environment. You can easily see how matching the right salesperson for the client can secure more big fish and for a longer period of time.

If you need help figuring out which of your salespeople fit into these three areas, try our FREE test drive and work with one of our amazing coaches to get your big fish plan in action.

The Perfect Bait

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:

  1. Build and analyze your database. Divide your leads into three different categories: hot leads, great fits, and secondary leads.
  2. Send out introductory mailings to your target to introduce yourself, your company, services, products, and vision. They need to be short, clean, and concise.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Untangle the Red Tape

In the last post, we talked about how to bring a “big company” mindset into your business and your team. This will help you overcome the mental obstacles that will keep you from being successful. Now, that you’ve learned how to overcome that, we’re going to talk about who your “fish” are. It’s important to know about the fish you are looking for before you put a plan together. We’re also going to take a moment to talk about the potential “red tape” you may encounter along the way.

The most important thing to know about your fish is their purchasing habits and procedures. There are four main things you need to work on in order to be successful:

  1. Responsibilities: You need to know who has influence over purchasing, who does the actual buying and who can kill a deal if they want.
  2. Get on Their List: You need to know how to get on their list of people to buy from. Your name needs to not only be on the list, but at the top of it and in as many categories as possible for more interaction. Ask about a procurement program and what you need to do to go through the application process.
  3. Lingo: You need to learn the company’s unique language and communications methods. These could include report names, buzzwords and even the nicknames they have for their employees.
  4. Fiscal Budgets: It’s essential you know the fish’s fiscal budget, so you know exactly when they are planning their expenses for the year.

Now that we’ve talked a little about what you need to know about your fish, let’s a quick look at the “red tape”.

Bureaucracy might as well be a four-letter word with the emotions it stirs in all of us. “Red tape” is a necessary evil, but one you can use to learn from. There are two ways to learn from their system:

  1. Analyze their activity.
  2. Review their correspondence.

Being an outsider looking in can have its advantages too. If you hate dealing with the “red tape,” imagine how their employees feel dealing with it. If they need to crunch some numbers, offer to do it. If they need more info, make sure you are giving it to them in a user-friendly way.

The things we talked about in this lesson will help you prepare for the big approach. If you need help with any of this, try our FREE test drive to find the right tools to get the job done.

Be One with the Fish

In the last post we started our series on catching big clients, or “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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Deliver + 1

In the last post we talked about how to figure out what your customers want out of a positive shopping experience. Today we’ll talk about the concept of Deliver +1 and how this concept can take your customer service to the next level. I’ve decided to split up this post so the next one will cover the 1% Rule.

Consistency is the key to any great customer service experience. If you want to take your satisfied customers to Raving Fan status, you have to go above and beyond the average customer service experience.

There are three ways to develop consistency:

Avoid offering too many customer service options.

We sometimes get so caught up in giving customers what they want that we get away from our original vision. Instead, stay true to your vision and offer one or two solid customer service techniques that will set you apart from the competition.

You need to fine tune the current systems you are using before you can add anything to the mix. There’s nothing worse than launching a new program when you haven’t even worked out the kinks of an old system.

Put solid systems into place.

Once you know what you’re going to offer, you need to have a system in place to execute it flawlessly every time. This system needs to involve the right people in the right roles and responsibilities and technology that guarantees a positive experience every time. Emphasis needs to be placed on the results, which ultimately is the satisfaction of the customer.

Good training is the key.

Once you have your system in place you need to train people to use it properly and efficiently. This helps your people deliver the results your customers are looking for. While training is essential for the system to work and for all your people to perform together cohesively, appreciation will go a long way.

I hope this has given you a look into what you need to do in order to have a quality customer service system in place. If you need help, try our FREE test drive and gain access to a wealth of resources, tools and coaching.

Another Secret Revealed

In the last post we talked about the first secret to building a solid customer service plan and how to decide what your vision is.

Today, we’ll talk about the second secret in turning your satisfied customers into raving fans. You must know what your customers want. Know who your customers are, and you will know better how to serve them. Demographics are really important here. An upper-class woman in her 30’s is going to have completely different expectations than a blue-collar worker in his 50’s.

There are four main areas you need to consider and plan when figuring out what your customers want:

  • Listen to Your Customers
  • Ask Your Customers Sincerely
  • Offer More than Just a Product/Service
  • Know When to Ignore Them

These are all important when deciding what your customers want out of their shopping experience.

Listen to Your Customers

You need to listen to both what they say and what they don’t say. Customers may say they want one thing and really mean something else. For example, if your customers are begging for lower prices, you may find out their real priority is quick delivery.

Also, listen to your “silent” customers. These are the customers who don’t bother to complain because the service is so bad that they’ve just given up and don’t feel like their voice matters. They feel unwanted. When a competitor shows up, they’ll be gone.

Lastly, you need to listen to customers who only reply with “fine.” These customers are similar to the “silent” customers in that they are so accustomed to bad customer service that they only give a monotone response.

Ask Your Customers Sincerely

If you aren’t sincere when you ask their opinion, they are going to see right through you. You may be thinking, “What about the customers who aren’t saying anything?” You need to ask them sincere questions that get them thinking about their experiences. Make them feel like you really care … and you should!

Offer More than Just a Product/Service

Your customers are looking for much more than a simple product or service; they are looking for an EXPERIENCE that makes them feel good. They grade you on every step of the process. When you take this into consideration and treat them like people, they will feel like they belong.

Know When to Ignore Them

You may think this goes beyond providing good customer service, but in reality, you can’t give them everything and you will never make some people happy. Know when to say no. You have to set limits and stick to them. If your vision and company don’t meet the needs of the customer, they may be best suited somewhere else.

These are the steps and tricks to figuring out what your customers want and how you can use them to work on your customer service vision and plan.

If you get stuck, try our FREE test drive and let us help you through the process.