Tag Archives: clients

Build your business by getting referrals from existing business

It’s so much easier than starting from scratch. That’s because the relationship is already there. Of course the foundation of any great relationship is good communications. And to maintain a great working relationship even when you’re not working together.

I have been very lucky in my business.  Almost every single client I ever had (I’ve been in business for 16 years) I’m still in touch with.  When they go on to new opportunities I’m usually the first person they contact to see if we can work together.  When I started a new company a few years back, I reached out to some of them to be on my Advisory Board.  The nice thing about these relationships is that I’m always thinking about my clients and how I can help them and likewise they are looking out for me.  This is actually true with colleagues and business associates in my network as well.

Heather Townsend put out a post listing 17 ways to get more referrals from existing clients.  It’s useful.  Here’s an 18th – stay in touch with my clients over the years even when your not working with them. I take some clients to lunch when they’re in town, and find ways to help them.  Even if we don’t work together for long periods of time, I stay in touch.  So when they do have a referral, I’m top of mind.

http://partnershippotential.co.uk/17-ways-to-get-more-referrals-from-your-existing-clients/?goback=.gde_1928264_member_260427351

 

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

Let go of your resistance to change

So you all know the phrase lead, follow or get out of the way?  Well, when it’s your company, you have to lead or your business will get pushed out of the way.  Change and resistance to it comes up a lot when you own your own business. You’re constantly challenged.

A while back, I called in one of my teams (information architect/writer, programmer and designer) and told them we had a new project. They were eager to sink their teeth into it.  I said, before I tell you about the assignment, I have to warn you that the client will be very difficult to deal with and a real micromanager. They didn’t care and kept pushing to learn who the client was. I said “me”.  I knew myself well enough to know that I needed my website changed but that if I took the helm, we’d never get the job done – plus, I’d drive everyone crazy (including myself) trying to micromanage the project. (This same situation arose when I started writing my book, alone. I wrote and re-wrote the first chapter for at least three or four months and was just stuck at that point until my co-author came aboard and said, hey we’ll go back and fix it later, let’s just get the whole thing down on paper first – which is what we did).

My team took the assignment, gave me specific tasks to do and otherwise went away and came back with a really nice product. I knew they would do that – so I just stood back and let them make the changes what needed to be done.

Maria Moraca touches on three key areas to work on in her blog: http://ht.ly/kULcZ

 

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

How would you like your graphic design? (You may pick two).

graphic design

These days you’re really lucky if you get two. This is a humorous approach to the magical solutions to the business problems so many clients want and have convinced themselves actually exist (these clients want all three of the big circles).  Clients who are desperate for new business and don’t want to wait.  Clients who are not business savvy. There are plenty of service providers out there who cater to the magical solutions (mind you, they don’t get results, they just cater).

I’m not one of them.

I was just interviewed by a potential client who has a service business.  She wanted half a dozen new clients in two months or less. Someone told her she could achieve this through hiring a resource to fix or improve the SEO on her website.  And maybe moving the website over to WordPress which has a fairly impressive (and free) SEO scheme that comes with websites and blogs that are created there.  The client was all set to click her heels and say “there’s no place like home.”

Then she  met me.  And I presented reality.   Uh oh.  Reality like SEO is part of a larger strategy to get attention.  A strategy which might include blogging, being published and referenced online, doing your own social networking. Next I explained that moving your existing website over to WordPress is not a simple migration process. Sure, you have all the templates, but I explained you still needed to have a designer work on it for you and you need a strategy of how to present your information in the new format (with many more choices of options). Reality like there’s no magic bullet.  And no designer on earth makes Dorothy shoes.  And that maybe, just maybe, her goals were a tad unrealistic.

She really didn’t want to hear this.  Oh she was polite alright but I knew what she was thinking – she couldn’t hide her disbelief that she couldn’t just push one button and make it all happen.

How to separate the magical wishers from the business

So knowing this, I moved on to the deal closer or breaker items that I use to weed out shoppers who want a magical solution as opposed to the real business world which I operate in.  I said I would send along my standard contract (where the client agrees to provide me with the information I need to do my job and also agrees to pay me and I agree to do my job within the time frame and estimate I provide).

And I also said I would charge for my estimate.  It takes time and strategic thinking to figure out how to solve the problem so you can estimate each item that will need to be done – this is called work product. The estimate is part of the solution (or roadmap) to the project.  So I’m working to create the estimate but I also know if I give the person an estimate for free, then I’ve done the hard work of figuring out how to get the results they need. They can then take my estimate and hire someone else (without a strategic brain) to execute it.  This is the second reason I charge for my estimates – to avoid this situation.

A day later, I got a very nice thank you note and was told the prospect wanted to interview lots of other people.  I have likewise replied very politely and wished them the best.

At some point I’m sure you’ve been on each side of this relationship.  No matter what side of the equation you find yourself on, make sure you don’t succumb to the magical thinking mindset.

 

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.