Category: Startups

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

Anyone or a 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 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:

  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 for 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.

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 different paths out there 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 different growth paths a business can take:

  1. Snail Speed
  2. Shooting Star
  3. Catch the Big Fish

 

1. Snail Speed

Businesses end up growing at snail speed when owners think they can find quick and easy success. They work hard doing the wrong things and end up without much reward or success. You may also find yourself following this path when you are afraid of change. The result will be slow or no growth.

2. Shooting Star

This describes a business that shoots to the top so fast that they are overwhelmed and don’t have the right resources to adapt. This can also happen when small clients take up all your resources, and you don’t take the time to find large clients, which is what will sustain your business after the small client sales slow down.

3. 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 achieve this by putting these tips to work:

  1. Attract, keep and lock in big clients.
  2. Integrate “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 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

 

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

It is essential to know which types of “Big Fish” are the best fit for your company. You can figure this out by taking a good look at how these big companies operate. 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 your amazing business coach.

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 essential 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

It would help if you listened 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 your customers are begging for lower prices, you may find out their real priority is quick delivery.

Also, listen to your “silent” customers. These customers 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 will see right through you. You may be thinking, “What about the customers who aren’t saying anything?” It would help if you asked them sincere questions that get them thinking about their experiences. Make them feel like you 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 consider this 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 customer’s needs, 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.

Shhh… 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 quickly 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 repeatedly. More importantly, they will tell everyone they know! 

There are three secrets to good customer service; we will first conquer 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, which 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 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 consider a few things 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 needs 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 will help you define the wants and needs of your company in relation to customer service.

Gather the Troops

 

Today I’d like to chat about the different types of support staff you need and what makes them so important.

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

  • The Technician
  • The Manager
  • The Entrepreneur

 

All three of these roles need to be filled by different people with the right kind of talent. It’s all about balance.

 

The Technician

This person represents the present and all that needs to be done for the physical aspects of the business building process. They are the “doer”. This is usually the most visible person of the entire operation.

 

The Manager

This person represents the past and works to fix problems through learning from past mistakes. They are the practical side of the business and are in charge of putting together the business and overseeing the planning.

 

The Entrepreneur

This person represents the future and the vision for the business. They are responsible for the creative side of the business and are always considering ways to enhance products/service, business image, branding and more.

 

All three of these characters are essential in the success of any business and to build a solid foundation from the start, you need to work harder to find the right people to put in these roles. Obviously, you need to be one of these key people, but ensure you find the role that fits your skills and talents, not necessarily what you THINK you should be doing.

 

This may be a hard process for you as you will need to relinquish some control over the business and instill trust in people to allow them to do their jobs.

 

Remember, I can help you through this entire process and teach you how to avoid minefields or falling victim to e-myths. Try my FREE test drive and see the true power of combining experience and knowledge.

 

Entrepreneurial Myths?

We will embark upon a journey through the world of Entrepreneurial Myths and debunk them to help you avoid falling into its traps.

 First, let’s take a minute to talk about what an Entrepreneurial Myth is. An Entrepreneurial Myth, or e-myth, is the assumption that anyone can be successful in business if they have: 

  • Desire 
  • Some capital 
  • A goal for success

 This concept sounds fabulous, but it is just not realistic. Compare starting a business to running a marathon. Sure, everyone gets out of the gate at a fast pace, but after a few miles people start to slow down, and some even drop out entirely. Building a successful business takes stamina and agility. The reality is that there are many different facets to a successful business, and if you want to be successful you can’t ignore any of them.

 Now, let’s talk about entrepreneurial breakdowns. These breakdowns are caused by the roller coaster of emotions that comes with starting your business, nurturing it, and the business potentially failing. 

The emotional journey tends to look like this:

  • Exhilaration
  • Exhaustion
  • Despair 
  • Sense of Loss 

 This emotional roller coaster is fueled by the e-myths and assumptions we discussed above. You have set such high expectations for instant success that even the slightest delay or set-back will send you into an emotional tailspin. 

 This also gets emphasized by the stark realization that you can’t do it all and will need help in areas where you lack expertise. Now, faced with limited choices, you may feel like giving up, that’s not necessary! Sign up for our FREE test drive to get the business coaching you need to avoid feeling overwhelmed and defeated.

  

Harm B Stratman , MBA

Business Accelerator

Kick Start Your Marketing

Today I’d like to teach you about the three most important start up marketing tools you need to get and keep new customers.

  1. In person: It’s essential you meet with customers/clients in person whenever possible. This shows you respect them and take the time to work with your clients to give personal attention to each of them.
  2. Follow up letter: Always take a moment to send a follow up letter about what you talked about, new agreements or partnerships made and to thank them for taking the time to meet with you. Likewise, you should always send thank you letters or small gifts to partners you find success with.
  3. Phone call: Use a telephone call to follow up with them to talk again about the matters you talked about in your meeting and offer any assistance you can to help their business run smoothly and more successfully.

None of these will work if you don’t have a quality product/service to back you up!

Here are the key steps for putting together your start-up marketing tools:

  1. Research potential customers, buyers, competitors and their preferred methods of distribution.
  2. Talk to potential customers. Take a hard look at your product from a customer’s perspective and see what it needs to be successful.
  3. Follow up with your 3-step process from above.
  4. Develop systems for contact follow through, quality control standards and customer service.
  5. Develop post-sale follow up system to keep lines of communication open is customers and build on your current relationship which increases future purchases.

“Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs” Peter Drucker, management consultant

Here’s another one I love from an icon:

“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.” Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motor Company

This lesson has offered you the tools to put together a start-up marketing plan that can be used over and over again to help your customer base and business grow in a manageable way.