Chances are you have heard that people want to do business with entrepreneurs that they “know, like and trust.” This is even more true today in the crowded entrepreneurial marketplace. What can you do to not only make sales but to build long-lasting relationships with clients? Here are some tips you may want to take to heart because it’s more cost effective to keep a client than it is to market for a new one.
Remember, it’s not all about “sales” you have to keep in mind that it’s about building a relationship. If you start with the hard sell when you meet a client, he will eventually clam up and will likely walk out the door. What happened? Perhaps they came in for information gathering and you went right into “here’s what I can do for you” without listening to his or her concerns.
Focusing on making the sale is a great way to chase potential clients out the door!
You do need to know the features and benefits of your products, but more importantly you need to understand what pain point brought the potential client into your business in the first place. You need to listen more than you talk. When you meet a potential client, greet them, get to know them. Ask easy, probing questions to determine what their needs are.
When you kick off a conversation with a hardsell, you are pressuring a potential client into making a snap decision and he or she is likely just in the information-gathering stage of their exploration.
Talk to them. Ask what brought them to your door. Ask how you can help serve them — not what you can sell them. Building a relationship will make it more likely that you will make the sale.
What do you do to build relationships with potential clients?
There are many steps that entrepreneurs can take to help enhance their business success. There are also things you should stop doing in your business to help amp up your success and here are some that I recommend to my coaching clients:
- Stop mixing business and personal funds. You need to keep your personal finances and your business finances separate. This goes for your expenses as well as your income. Set up separate bank accounts and deposit client payments into your business account.
- Pay bills online when possible. Writing checks takes time and also costs you money. Also, if you’re waiting for the bills to come in the mail you may miss a payment date and incur fees.
- Don’t get “lost” on social media. We recommend that your business have a social media and blogging presence, but you need to either hire a social media manager or if you’re doing it yourself, you need to budget for the time you’re spending online because it’s easy to go down a social media rabbithole and find that you’ve wasted hours online and neglected your business.
- Turn off email alerts. Contrary to popular belief, multitasking is not a productive use of your time. If you’re involved in a client-centered task, devote your energies to that. Turn off email alerts and get on a schedule of checking your email at the top or bottom of the hour — chances are your email replies can wait an hour, right?
- Don’t micro-manage your staff. If you hired well, let them do what you hired them to do. Trust their skills and expertise and let them do their jobs.
- Take time off. Working 24/7/365 leads to burnout and if you’re a solopreneur, your business will suffer. Schedule downtime and time off. Schedule time away from the computer for lunch as well.
Owning your own business is a dream come true for many of the individuals with whom I work. I caution them to look at these top six mistakes and make certain they aren’t making any of them!
Is your company undergoing changes? Is there a change in the packaging of your products? Are you adding new product lines to your offerings and discontinuing others? Do you have a change in the upper level management or ownership of the company? In addition to addressing how these changes will impact your staff, you need to understand how a company change will impact your clients.
Remember, in the overall scheme of things your clients may not be impacted at all because you are planning for a seamless transition, but the perception will be there that, “things are changing and this may not be good for us.” You need to allay those fears. How can you do that? Here are some steps to consider:
- Ensure that the team, especially those who interact with clients daily, are equipped to fully communicate with clients on the changes that are occurring. They need to have all of the information at hand that will alleviate fear and stress from their clients.
- Set aside a time to meet with clients — either individually — or in a group cocktail (or other) kind of gathering to share your excitement with them about the upcoming changes.
- Celebrate the successes of the transition in the company and its team. Keep everyone in the loop as this will make it easier for them to share in the excitement of the changes and that will resonate with clients when your staff meets with them.
How did you handle a time of change in your business?
Being a business owner means that you have to be out shaking hands, knocking on doors and making phone calls. Once you get your foot in the door, what can you do to make certain you and the proposal you submit will be winners? Here are my tips to winning a proposal and they can be used in any industry:
- Clearly understand your client’s needs. Remember you need to address and fix their unique pain points, not shoehorn them into the solution you provide. It needs to be a synergistic fit.
- Ask whether the potential client has a budget under which he is operating. If you put together a proposal based on his or her unique needs only to find out that they cannot afford the solution you’re offering, you’ve been spinning your wheels. Ask for a budget to see if you can work within it.
- Have a proposal template. This makes it easy for you to plug and play when you’re meeting with a client. Don’t reinvent the wheel with each client meeting.
- List all of the deliverables in the proposal so your client knows exactly what he or she will be receiving. You will also want to list what they need to get to you in order for you to move forward with a relationship.
- Be clear on fees and payment schedules. Don’t leave this vague because that could lead to misunderstandings down the road.
- Put together a PowerPoint presentation as a way to visually enhance the proposal and to help your client thoroughly understand how he can benefit from working with you. Remember, keep your presentation short and sweet — you’re there to make a connection, not have them watch a long dissertation.
Do you have success stories with your proposal presentations? What is your best practice tip?