Category: Education

Not Doing your Homework – Part 1

Let’s examine five opportunities for improvement that you can experience that could challenge a deal with a client:

  1. Not meeting the client’s expectations:
    1. Why?  Did you not do your homework or do a thorough discovery process?
    2. Did you not include the proper individuals or departments?
  2. Mishandling a client crisis:
    1. If you need a subject matter expert to compliment you—get one!
    2. Again—preparation is key!
  3. Taking on more than you can handle:
    1. Make sure you bring the resources with you that you need, and identify gaps and fill them with the right mix of expertise for you to be successful.
    2. Make sure you are always ready to “Go big or go home.”  Make sure you have the financial resources on hand for elasticity in a deal—there are always other options for your client to move on to a more accommodating provider.  If you can’t say yes, someone else will.
  4. Putting all your eggs in one basket:
    1. Keep taking the temperature for ALL of your clients—they all add up to your bottom line, and provide you valuable referral opportunities.
    2. Look for value-add opportunities with your large clients that doesn’t necessarily take up additional calendar time or cost.
  5. Up cash creek without a paddle:
    1. A large client can max out small company resources pretty quickly.  Make sure you evaluate possible outcomes and how gaining that client can stress your company’s capabilities.
    2. Many times, it takes money to make money—be prepared for growth and accommodating these types of clients.

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 that you give your client’s exactly what you promised during the negotiation portion of your relationship. If an unexpected 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.

At the very least, 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 with the actual deliverables.

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

A crisis will happen, but how you respond and mitigate them will define your company and your ongoing interactions 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 leadership responsibility no matter who is at fault.
  • Act swiftly and effectively.
  • Step in and take control of the situation, where applicable.
  • Never point fingers or place blame.  Grow together with your client!
  • Stay in constant communication with your client.
  • Stay calm throughout the situation.
  • Keep your eye on the ball.  Don’t move on from a situation until it is resolved.

Now, that you know the top two mistakes you can make to kill a 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 GUIDED TOUR to get all the help you could ever need.

https://ascensionbusinessacademy.com/guidedtour

Keep the Momentum Going by Nurturing your Primary Client Point-of-Contact

In the last post we talked about negotiating with your big client and how to nurture and build on the relationships you are creating. In this post, we will discuss the power your client has and how to utilize that for your benefit.

One of the most important aspects of this is to keep your champion singing your praises. This refers to the ally you created within the company and who needs to stay loyal to you for you to continue a profitable partnership with your client. You can keep your champion going by offering number of things to show appreciation. Some of these things are:

  • Share the limelight.  Include them in your company’s success stories and internal or external communications.
  • Help them thank their company with new products and services.  Offer to expand the “Super-user” relationship.
  • Further emotionally connect them to your company.  Invite them to speak at your booth at a convention or at your conference.
  • Know when to leave them alone and stay out of the way of their day-to-day operations of their business.
  • Keep your “family” happy—Don’t forget to stay in touch with the other members of your client’s team and take their overall temperature routinely.

Now that you have some ideas of how to build and maintain solid relationships, the whole idea is to continue to seek out people to build these relationships with.

These are all great ways to feed your alliance. You need to go into a relationship considering the things a big client 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 contented.

If you need help with any of these tactics, contact us directly for great tools and resources that can help you every step of the way.

That First Meeting with that Big Prospect (and Winning with a Client’s Voice for your Company)

There are a few things you need to do and consider to prepare for your first face to face meeting:

  • Vet and capture what you want to accomplish during the meeting.
  • Anticipate potential concerns from the client.
  • Check and recheck to make sure you are completely prepared.
  • During the call/meeting, listen more than you talk.
  • Bring applicable support staff with you.
  • Use and respect the prospects’ format.
  • Always follow through with your to-do’s.
  • Ask for what you need and seal the deal.
  • Take the angle to simplify your prospects’ life.
  • Find ways to boost your credibility.
  • Build and nurture relationships following the meeting.
  • Remember what you have learned from being told “no” in the past. Remember what didn’t work so you know how to anticipate the various paths the conversation can go.

These are all important things to do both before and during your presentation. With confidence behind your company and product you will close the deal. The next step of the process is negotiation. This can seem a little intimidating but with a few tips and tricks, this can all become natural to you.

Here are some tips to help you negotiate successfully:

  1. Build a pricing strategy and stick with it.  Don’t fall into the trap of discounting to get the business.
  2. Prioritize what you plan to offer. This should include what really matters to you and what you are willing to accommodate.
  3. Don’t give in too quickly.
  4. Negotiate 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. Remember–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 returns from the partnership. Once you start meeting or working together, it’s important to continue to build your relationship so that that the prospect’s representative becomes an ally for you and your company.

Let’s define this point-of-contact:

We like to call this person a champion. They are an end-user voice 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 interests of their company’s long-term vision.
  • 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 new client’s position to the best of your benefit.

If you need help with any aspects of the negotiation process, try our GUIDED TOUR to get access to a wealth of great tools and resources to help you be successful.

 

 

Who’s Your Most Appropriate Sales MVP for the Job at Hand?

In the last post, we talked about making first contact with your prospective clients and how to make a positive first impression. In this post, we’re going to talk about feeling out the personality of your prospective large clients to match them with the appropriate salesperson.

You need to do this in two steps:

  1. Profile your salespeoples’ personalities.
  2. Match the right salesperson to your target prospects.

There are essentially three different selling personalities:

  • The Sage
  • The Pal
  • The 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, and 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 are 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 resource’s this personality type needs is help in pairing with the right client, entertainment budget and the appropriate and timely 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 is a set of business people out there that 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.

These 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 large client wins and for a longer period of time.

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

https://ascensionbusinessacademy.com/guidedtour

First Contact Equals First Impression!

In our last blog post, we talked about how to capture those large clients and prepare for the first contact you’ll make with them.  Remember that:

  • 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 correct approach and how to make that perfect first impression. Before you put together your approach plan, you need to create the prioritized list of prospects. 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, identify and list your operational procedures, where your target prospects are initially positioned, your big-customer research, and lastly, putting it all together.

Compile Your Hit List

Start with a list of all the companies you’ve been considering as prospects. Then narrow it down to the ones that you know could use your products or services and be most likely to convert. Don’t overlook obvious choices, whether they are big or small. Even small companies could be very profitable for you in the future.

Select the Best Target

Once you’ve got your list narrowed down, you need to decide which one is the best to start with. You need to consider the following:

  • Which have the most purchasing resources to spend?
  • Does their company vision compliment yours?
  • What encompasses their employee incentive program as it relates 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 in your medium of choice to your target(s) 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 reach outs. During the phone call, find out whom you need to be speaking with in the future and try to set up a meeting with this person.
  4. Follow up your phone call with another reach out that thanks them for taking the time to speak with you and then 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 make a decision. 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 most importantly 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 GUIDED TOUR to work with a coach and have access to a wealth of great resources and tools.

https://ascensionbusinessacademy.com/guidedtour

Know Who Writes the Checks

In our last blog post we talked about how to bring the big-company mindset into your business and to your team, and how it will help you overcome the mental obstacles that will keep you from being successful.

Two of the most important things to know about your high-profile clients is their purchasing habits and procedures. Following this thought, there are four main things you need to monitor and address in order to be successful:

  1. Purchasing 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 company needs to not only be on the list, but at the top of it and in as many categories as possible for the more interaction and ultimately, MORE TRANSACTIONS. Ask about a procurement program and what you need to do to go through the application process.
  3. Corporate Terminology: 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 their fiscal budget and calendar, so you know exactly when they are planning their expenses for the year.

If you need help with any of this, see this two part series for more information:

 

2 Part Series – How To Increase Transactions And Customer Revenue

 

Becoming One With the Big Company Mindset to Win Big Clients

In the last post we started our series on acquiring larger clients 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 and conduct your business like a “large client” company and how that can help you plan your approach and find success.

Before you can start the process of landing these types of clients, you have to make sure your entire team is onboard with your approach and vision. Here are six key ways to finding big client success. They are:

  1. First Impression: You must remember you sometimes have one shot to land a large client. If you make a mistake, they are most likely not going to consider you again. Never give them a reason to doubt your abilities on that first call.
  2. First Priority: Your large prospect must always feel like they are your first priority. Return their calls and emails immediately and find solutions to their problems or questions as quickly as possible.
  3. Be flexible: You need to be flexible in your negotiations. If they need a special service or have a need for you to customize a product or product bundle, then simply accommodate them 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 large prospects you need to think about the long-term benefits for your business. If you go for a one-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 acclimate your larger clients 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 high-priority client calls be answered immediately and handled with urgency.
  • Offer awards/recognition for big-company ideas and executions.
  • Put together a training and certification program based on the six keys above.

 

These six keys and tips will help you instill a big-company mindset throughout your business which will help you be more prepared and more likely to land the larger clients. 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 GUIDED TOUR to work with one of our coaches or check out our resources and tools.

www.ascensionadvisingsolutions.com/guidedtour

Managing your Business Velocity and Trajectory

There are a number of factors to take into consideration when prepping yourself and your company to land the largest clients you’ll ever work with.

In this week’s post, we’re going to start with a brief look at the three paths every business can maneuver, and show you which one is the better path to success. Then we’ll talk about the mindset it takes to attract the big fish.

There are three velocities a business owner may find themselves engaged in at any given point in their business lifecycle:

  • A Snail’s Pace
  • Shooting Star
  • Catch the Big Fish

A Snail’s Pace

Most business owners here end up working themselves into the ground without much reward or success. This is what happens when you fool yourself into thinking you will most surely find quick success. You may also find yourself following this path when you are afraid of change or taking calculated risks.

The Shooting Star (that may end up burning out)

This describes a business that shoots to the top so fast that you are overwhelmed and you may lack the proper resources in place to adapt to your new influx of business. This can also happen from being overwhelmed by too many small clients, revenue-wise, and not taking the time to find large clients, which will sustain your business after the small client sales start trailing off.

Strategizing to Catch the Big Fish

This is the path that allows you to build at a steady pace that you can manage by not allowing your customer acquisition and customer mix to outpace you. You can do this by putting these tips to work:

  1. Attract, keep and lock in a relative number of larger clients.
  2. Integrate “big business” culture into your company and your employees.
  3. Acquire the demonstrable expertise you need to grow.
  4. Have the courage to evaluate and make changes as you grow.

Now we are going to transition a bit and talk about the “big fish” mindset. It may sound easy enough at first to just find and catch that big fish, but if you are stuck in the small business mindset, you may find it harder than you think.

Think of all the benefits of acquiring larger revenue clients:

  • Lower cost ratio per client
  • Highly Profitable
  • Better potential for longevity for your business
  • Financial security for your business

In order to acquire the more lucrative clients, you need to believe and demonstrate how your company can make a valuable difference for them. It’s easy to fall back to the mindset that a large company doesn’t need anything from a small business like yours, but this is entirely wrong!

Once you consider relatively how the larger companies operate, it’s important to do your research and know which ones are the best fit with your company. If you’re not sure where to start and feel a little intimidated about catching the big fish, try our GUIDED TOUR to get help from our amazing business coaches.

 

A Winning Growth Strategy to Add to Your Portfolio: The Rule of 1%

The Rule of 1% is simply defined as the process of adding to your customer service deliverables by one percent at a time. Before you can do this, you must have your consistency and standardization perfected or it will never work. This one percent may seem small, but per this strategy if you approach the vision for your company with these baby steps, you will find a huge increase over time. This strategy is not a sprint; it’s more akin to a marathon.

Avoid taking on too many customer campaigns at one time or you could set yourself up for failure. Think of the confidence you and your employees will have when you improve one percent each week. Over the course of a year, you’ll have improved by more than 50%!

While guidelines and standards are generally considered to be necessary for business growth, you should always try to be flexible with your best customers. For example, most retailers only allow a set number of items into a dressing room to reduce the risk of shoplifting, but it could generally restrict a large percentage of people who are not stealing from you. Flexibility is the key to what you deliver to your customers and consistency is the key to how you deliver it.

The bottom line is this: Customers rely on you to deliver what you promise. If you spend too much money on bulky advertising that promises more than you can deliver, even your best intentions will unravel quickly and you will fail.

Focus on your vision and take these steps to turn your satisfied customers into long-term supporters of your brand.

I hope you’ve learned a lot about good customer service and how it’s essential to your overall success. If you need help with any of the steps that we’ve gone through over the last four blog posts, then you can try our GUIDED TOUR and get access to some of the best resources, tools and coaches available.

In upcoming posts we’re going to explore strategies of winning the big clients and keeping them.

 

Establish a Consistently Achievable Customer Service Experience

In last week’s blog post, we talked about how to ascertain what your customers want and view as a positive shopping experience. In this week’s blog post, we will discuss how to establish and deliver a consistent customer service experience and how this approach can take your customer service to the next level.  I’ve decided to partition this post into next week 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 upward into Raving Fan status, you clearly have to challenge yourself 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.  This is like a restaurant that has too large of a menu and as a result, they do not tend to do anything particularly well.

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—learn how to correctly analyze and then optimize your processes.

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 consistently position the right people in the right roles (along with the corresponding 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 your employees to follow it properly and efficiently. This helps your people deliver the results that your customers are looking for. While appropriate and timely training is essential for the system to work and for all your people to work together cohesively, always remember you’re your ongoing appreciation for their efforts 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 GUIDED TOUR and gain access to a wealth of resources, tools and as always, our game-changing coaching sessions.

www.ascensionbusinessacademy.com/guidedtour