Category: Education

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 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 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 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:

  1. Bring in your best team and have them all help to meet the fish’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 backup 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. 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’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 your fish. This can generally be measured 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, 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 them from hitting your business hard.

5 Killer Mistakes – Part 1

There are 5 big mistakes that will kill a deal with a big fish. They are:

  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 client’s 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 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.

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 mistakes you can make in working with big fish clients.

Keep Up the Momentum

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 for 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 about how to build solid relationships, you need to seek out people to build these relationships. 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:

  1. Power
  2. Information
  3. 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.

Bring Them Flowers

There are a few things you need to do and consider to 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 prospect’s 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 in 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 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 requests 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 processes, try our FREE test drive to get access to a wealth of great tools and resources to help you be successful.

Untangle the Red Tape

In the last post, we talked about how to bring the 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 is. 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 on board 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 email 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 payoff 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 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 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 a 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.

Are You On The Right Path?

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

Today we’re going to start with a brief look at the three paths every business faces and show you which one is the path to success. Then we’ll talk about the mindset it takes to attract the big fish.

There are three major paths a business can take:

  • Snail Speed
  • Shooting Star
  • Catch the Big Fish

Snail Speed

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

Shooting Star

This describes a business that shoots to the top so fast you are overwhelmed and don’t have the right resources in place to adapt. This can also happen from being overwhelmed by small clients and not taking the time to find large clients, which will sustain your business after the small client sales slow.

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 customers to outpace you. You can do this by putting these tips to work:

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

Now we are going to transition a bit and talk about the “big fish” mindset. It may sound easy 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 aiming at bigger clients:

  • Inexpensive
  • Highly Profitable
  • Longevity
  • Security

In order to catch the big fish, you need to believe your company can make a difference with theirs. It’s easy to get into the thought that a large company doesn’t need anything from a small business like yours, but this is entirely wrong!

Once you take a look at how big companies operate, it’s important to know which ones are the best fit for your company. One of the best ways to get in the door is by knowing someone on the inside who can put in a good word for you.

If you’re not sure where to start and feel a little intimidated about catching big fish, try our FREE test drive to get help from our amazing business coaches.

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 taking your satisfied customers to 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 you 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 they’ve just given up and don’t feel like their voice matters. They feel unwanted and 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 used to bad customer service 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. You have to set limits and stick to them. If your vision and company don’t meet the needs of the customer, they will 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.

I Have a Secret

Customer service is a hot topic and can make or break your business. Consumers have little patience for lousy customer service and easily get tired of waiting in long lines, trying to get a live person on the line, going through an interrogation to return something, or trying to communicate through a language barrier.

If you provide them with a simple, efficient, pleasant experience they will revisit your business over and over. More importantly, they will tell everyone they know!

There are three secrets to good customer service; the first one we’re going to conquer is knowing exactly what YOU want.

You are the captain of the ship and the visionary for the future of your business, so you need to have a clearly defined plan for your business that includes customer service. There are three main goals you need to consider:

  1. It needs to be easy for your customers to do business with you. You can do this with advertised discounts, kiosks, your website, and other technology-based programs to help them shop.
  2. Doing business with you needs to be a warm and pleasant experience. Your staff has to be knowledgeable, approachable, warm, and patient. Your customers need to feel like they are getting a good value for their time and money. Perceived value goes beyond the price of the products and extends to their shopping experience.
  3. Change your mindset and ask yourself “How can I NOT afford to do these things?” This shouldn’t be a question of expenses but making and keeping happy customers.

With these thoughts in mind, you also need to take a few things into consideration when deciding on the actual programs and standards you’ll put into place.

  • Share your customer service vision with the rest of your staff.
  • Connect your incentive programs and bonuses directly to customer service.
  • Monitor the level of customer service your staff is putting out.
  • Know when you can ignore what your customers want.
  • Continuously focus on your goals.

You now know what you can start thinking about to meet those wants and create a positive customer service experience.

If you’re having a hard time deciding on what you want, the tools, resources, and coaches in our FREE test drive can help you define the wants and needs of your company in relation to customer service.

Add Some Compost

In the last post, we talked about the first three of the 7 specific areas you need to consider in your franchise prototype process. Here are all seven again:

  • Primary Aim
  • Strategic Objectives
  • Organizational Strategy
  • Management Strategy
  • People Strategy
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Systems Strategy

These 7 areas will fine-tune your plan for the ultimate level of success. Today we are going to cover the last four.

Think of constructing your business model like planting a tree. At first, it’s so small and weak you wonder if it will even make it through the night. But you keep watering, fertilizing, and nurturing it. Your ideas will grow the trunk and each of these strategies will extend out like the branches of your now strong tree. Finding the perfect support staff, employees, vendors/suppliers and other relationships will make your tree flourish with leaves and flowers.

Management Strategy

The way you structure your management team is not only essential to your growth, but the happiness of your employees and, ultimately, your customers/clients. This strategy is results-oriented and doesn’t depend on the people, but the actual system that’s in place.

A management strategy is, in short, a set of standards that include goals, rules, a mission statement, and other concrete things that tell your employees how to act, your management how to grow your business, and your customers/clients what to expect.

These should all be in perfect alignment with your business goals.

Employee Appreciation

You need to put together a people strategy that shows your employees how you feel about their job performance and dedication to your business. They also need to understand “why” they are doing specific tasks. This helps them to personally connect to their job which in turn leads to better production and a happier workplace.

There are a number of strategies you can use to keep it interested at “the office”:

  • Performance Incentive Programs
  • Contests that reward high performance
  • The employee of the Month
  • Performance/Holiday Bonuses

These are just a few of the ideas you can use. One of the best ways to appreciate your employees is by calling a meeting and asking them how they would like to be rewarded. Think about it for awhile and put the best strategy into play. Keep it fresh and change up the strategy you use from time to time to keep your employees guessing. Once they get used to the prize, it’s time for a whole new approach.

You need to build a community within your company. There needs to be support, appreciation, and respect. The more “at home” an employee feels, the better they will perform and the higher their level of loyalty.

Marketing Strategy

Marketing is, of course, essential to the success of any business, but it also must work cohesively with the other strategies you’re using. There are two major pillars of a successful marketing strategy: The demographic and psychographic profiles of your customers.

The psychographic tells you what your customers are the most likely to buy and the demographic tells you who they are, which can help you learn why they buy specific items. Without this information, it simply doesn’t matter how good your business prototype is.

Systems Strategy

There are three types of systems in every business:

  • Hard Systems
  • Soft Systems
  • Information Systems

Hard systems refer to inanimate systems or systems that have no “life”. Soft systems are those that could be living. Information systems are, of course, everything else, including customer data, product information, financial…anything with data and numbers.

The most important of all three systems is the soft system because it includes the sales systems your business uses. In your sales system, the two keys to success are structure and substance. The structure is what you sell and substance is how you sell it.

All three systems are essential to the success of your business and while they all have their own very specific roles, they all must work together to get the job done. This also goes for your entire business development program.

I want to take a moment to recap the ideas we went over through the business development lessons.

An entrepreneurial myth, or e-myth, is an assumption that anyone can succeed at business with:

  • Desire
  • Some capital
  • Projected a targeted profit

There are essentially three key roles that need to be filled to set your business up for success:

  • The Technician
  • The Manager
  • The Entrepreneur

The four different stages of a business life cycle are:

  • Infancy
  • Adolescence
  • Growing Pains
  • Maturity

There are a few things we are going to talk about:

  • Business Format Franchise
  • The Franchise Prototype
  • Franchise Prototype Standards

There are three main areas of business development:

  • Innovation
  • Quantification
  • Orchestration

7 specific areas you need to consider in your franchise prototype process. Here are all seven again:

  • Primary Aim
  • Strategic Objectives
  • Organizational Strategy
  • Management Strategy
  • People Strategy
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Systems Strategy

We can help you work through all of these areas and give your business a jumpstart that puts you ahead of your competition right from the start. Use our FREE test drive and work with one of our coaches, plus gain access to a wealth of tools and resources.