A twelve-part blog series outlining how to save, turnaround, and grow, your struggling or failing professional client service consultancy, architects practice, design studio, marketing communications (marcomms), PR, digital or creative agency business.
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Total Business Turnaround
Part 11 | New Business and Sales
If you have been in business for any length of time, you already appreciate that there is very little in life that isn’t a new business opportunity. It really comes down to keep your eyes open and accepting the fact that if you are prepared to turn up, pay attention and contribute something of value, new business will come to you.
Personality Types in Sales
Some people are inherently able to sell, others are not. What sets those who can sell apart is that they, quite often without realising it, are able to identify with different personality types and respond almost instantly. This permits them to build rapport with their prospects, which leads to continued new business opportunities and sales.
In simple terms, if you wish to build rapport with someone, the fastest way is to respond or approach them with the same mix of personality traits – dominance, influence, steadiness, and conscientiousness.
Giving Value before Offering Value
Think about how you can give value ahead of offering value, or being asked to provide value. Provide regular articles, talks, and consultations, and you not only hone and perfect your expertise and business offer, but you also give value to potential and existing clients who will then come to you for the more complex problems that they are facing.
If people know who you are before you network with them, you are ahead of the game. It’s a lot easier to network and meet new people when your reputation precedes you. It’s then no longer about you, but about what you can find out and discover about the other party and how you can help them and give them value.
The Importance of Networking
You have to have the right people around you to support your efforts and to keep you on an even keel; people to bounce ideas off of, people to point you to new business, people to turn to when things get tough.
That is what your network is all about and you to get about building it as soon as you can. Show up at events and participate, meet people within and outside your industry, and remember that everyone you meet can potentially help you in some way as long as you are willing to help them as well.
Making the Pitch
The pitch is where you make it or break it. Whether you leave them wanting to know more—and open their wallets to you—or just wanting to show you the door depends on how you approach them in the given situation and on the way you communicate your message.
You want the person you are speaking with to want to take the next step, whether that is a purchase or a meeting to discuss you products further.
If you are negotiating fees and you need to agree on a price, there are three rules of thumb you need to follow, and if you prepare properly you can’t go wrong. That is, of course, assuming you have the opportunity to prepare. Wherever possible, always give yourself that opportunity.
You also need to understand your cut-off points, and make sure you don't get put on the spot and commit to something you can’t deliver.
Authority and Expertise
The client is considering your firm for a potential project or relationship because, to this point, you have conveyed that you are experts within your field and can help them solve their immediate and recurring problems.
It’s important that your team establish what I call skill boundaries; it’s very easy for an unsupported new business person or project manager to fall into the habit of adopting the role of one of your more specialist staff, especially when they are very engaged with the process.
Obviously, this is very unlikely with highly technical expertise, but it’s something to be wary of in other areas of your business.
When tendering, you need to have the background information about the project and your client. You could find out something your competitor does not know, and that might make all the difference. It also provides you with the information you need to create a truly tailored response to the client’s brief. Also, be truthful, but never include something that will create a barrier to you being selected for the job.
After Sales – The Customer Experience and the Importance of Follow-up
Your ultimate aim is to leave the client delighted with the whole experience of your business. That means from the moment they come through your door to the moment you hang-up after the follow-up phone call, you are giving them the red carpet treatment.
Why? Because you want them to feel guilty that they are sending any work elsewhere. In fact, effective follow-up after providing solid customer service can turn your satisfied clients into cheerleaders for your business.