Last time we talked about the first three areas to work through in maximizing your current resources. They were:
- Recognize the obvious
- Unconventional breakthroughs
- Face the facts
Today we’ll cover the next three, which are:
- Reveal your business’ soul
- From breaking even to breaking the bank
- Stand up and stand out
Reveal Your Business’ Soul
Every business has a soul and you likely felt it the strongest when your business was just starting. It’s that passion, newness and momentum you had at the very beginning. Sometimes that can get lost along the way as your business gets stagnant and set in its ways. You have to break out of that rut and get back to your business’ true soul.
The philosophy of putting your client’s needs above your own is the true key to success. You need to serve your clients not sell to them. They want to build a relationship based on trust, not a used car. Add to these responsibilities your ability to solve problems, handle special situations, be a friend to your clients and focus on offering valuable, high quality products/services. Only then will you get back to the basics and find you have more resources than you thought.
From Breaking Even to Breaking the Bank
One of the classic and most used ways to attract clients is to offer them a ridiculously low price on their initial purchase and lock them in for future purchases. You see this approach with movie or book clubs and even credit card companies who offer lower interest rates for the first six months.
Essentially, you are offering them a deal on their first purchase and then you offer them back-end and add-on products along the way. These are naturally higher prices and will bring them in to more of an intimate relationship with you and your company.
Stand Up and Stand Out
You need to stand out from the pack among your competitors. They only way you can do this through consistency and value. You do this by discovering what your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is and perfecting it. Here are some tips to help you find and develop your USP:
- Look for unfilled needs in your industry.
- Use preemptive marketing.
- Use a technique that is clear and to the point.
Remember, be THE solution to your client’s problem.
Over the next few posts we’re going to talk about how to take a hard look at your current resources and get the most out of them. This can help your capital go further and increase your profit margin.
Today we’ll cover three different ways to maximize what you already have. These include:
- Recognize the obvious
- Unconventional breakthroughs
- Face the facts
Recognize the Obvious
Sometimes when you are too close to something, you can’t make out the big picture. You need to step back and really take a hard look at the resources you currently have in front of you. You are surrounded by opportunities that can boost your career and help your business become more successful.
Don’t sit around waiting for breakthroughs you need to create them yourself. A breakthrough is merely a new way of doing things or finding a new thing to do for the same or better results. You should be having regular brainstorming sessions and encouraging your team to come forward with breakthroughs or ideas any time they have them.
Some great examples of breakthroughs are:
- A health and beauty company discovers a side effect of a product that can be re-marketed and sold.
- A company creates a roll-on deodorant inspired by the shape and size of a ball point pen.
- The founder of Nike poured rubber onto a waffle iron and created the most innovative and successful running shoe ever.
When attracting or strategizing for a breakthrough there are some key objectives you need to keep in mind. They are:
- Look for the hidden opportunity in every situation.
- Look for at least one cash windfall for your business every three months.
- The more value for your client, the better your breakthrough.
- Create multiple streams of idea to find the best breakthroughs.
- Effective breakthroughs remove all risk or resistance.
Face the Facts
Before you can put your breakthroughs to work you need to face the facts of the processes and systems that are not working for you and work to correct or get rid of them. System analysis is a good way to do this. Once you have a listing of your strengths and weaknesses, you need to compare those to the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors.
There are some great questions you can present to you and your team to get a handle on where your business is right now. They are:
- Why did I first start this business? Why am I in this industry?
- What products/services did I offer then? Which were the most popular?
- Why are my customers/clients buying from me right now?
- How did I generate new customers/clients then?
- Which of my marketing efforts were bringing in the best results?
Once you’ve got some answers to these questions, you’ll know better how to approach your weaknesses.
The last 2 posts covered the first four of the killer mistakes you can make that will not only make you lose your fish, 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 change of running out of cash flow. 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 inventor network.
These are all great ways to protect the cash flow of your business and prepare for fish 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 your 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 fish clients, try our GUIDED TOUR 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 big fish 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 highly 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 a trick called the Mock Fish 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 fish 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 can allow your company to become dependent on any one fish. Eventually or for certain periods there is going to be a slowing down period with your fish. In order to stay in the game you need to diversify.
If you’ve ever mishandled a fish, you could drive away potential fish 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 fish 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 your fish. This can generally be measures in sales or profits. Take a look back at the process we’ve used thus far to snag more fish 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, send me a message.
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 you can do that will kill a deal with a big fish. They are:
- 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 talk about each one of these, in this lesson we’ll cover the first two.
Not Meeting Client’s Expectations
It is 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
Crisis’ 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 fish 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.
Next time we’ll talk about the 3rd and 4th killer mistake you can make in working with big fish clients.