Monday, 18 July 2011

Networking and the three card trick!

Many people go to network events and don’t get much out of it. Here is something you could try.

Work the whole room. Don’t get stuck with just one or two people. When you are given a business card do one of three things

1 If a good hot prospect agree to contact them soon (don’t rely on them contacting you). Put a note on the business card and put it into pocket number one (or compartment one in your handbag)

2 If a good prospect but not as hot as 1 above agree to get in touch soon and put in pocket number two

3 If the contact is of no apparent use still take the card put into pocket 3 and move on to the next person

Follow up action

So the key thing is the follow up. First throw away all the cards in pocket number three. Don’t put their details on your database etc. Get rid of them straight away

Take the cards from pocket one and start contacting them straight away for a follow up meeting or whatever is appropriate. Don’t wait more than say a week to do this.

Once you have worked through pocket number one then move onto pocket number two and contact them. This might just be to make a follow up contact and say you will be back in touch in a few weeks (depending on your dairy)

Keep on “revisiting” the contacts

Once you have done this keep on revisiting those contacts from pocket one and two and keep in touch and try to create opportunities to meet and do business together.

Don’t expect too much from them. You will have to do the hard work. Make yourself a useful contact.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Differentiate to succeed through training

To win work there is a need to differentiate your service. Take a look at your team and see if you can improve how they interact with your potential clients.

Look at aspects such as bespoke service, after care, technical assistance and any other added value you may bring. Use training as one of many ways to build that long term relationship. Make the training sessions informative, enjoyable and a stepping stone to future interaction.

The benefits of training
It’s during these long periods of economic uncertainty that there is pressure to reduce budgets. Training is usually one of the first budgets to be cut. This is understandable with resources being focused on survival rather than investing in the future. Even free or low cost training sessions may be reduced to the bare minimum.

There are many benefits that can be derived from training, these include:
  • Keeps employees on the cutting edge of knowledge and practice
  • Can improve quality and efficiency leading to better productivity and brand value
  • Develops team spirit, internal collaboration and helps with employee retention
  • Develops a positive feeling within the organization, builds morale and improves the company image
  • Can unite the business with a common goal and purpose for long term gain

Take a look at your current training provision. How many of the above points are you able to deliver?

Training can also focus on three core areas within a business, these are:
  • Operational, this is the actual purpose of the business.
  • Management, this is the making it happen. The managing of the business and delivering the clients’ needs
  • Business Development, this is the task of bringing in more work to feed the business

Grants available to help you differentiate
Perhaps now, in this tough market, it is time to refresh your training approach. If you need a fresh pair of eyes to help differentiate your service then there may be grants available through various initiatives. I you want more details e-mail me on basil@potentialise.com

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Don’t take it for granted that your client understands

A mother took her five year old daughter to see the ballet. After a fine performance with the female dancers all on the tips of their toes, the young girl was heard to say “Mummy, why didn’t they get taller dancers?”

In the same way when dealing with your clients don’t assume they know the basics of what you do. You will need to gauge what they know in your preliminary discussions and use this knowledge to guide you with your presentations and proposals content. Equally don’t underestimate what they know!!

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Harvest what you sow

Harry, a businessman, had fallen on hard times and decided to visit his local church. The church was empty so he went up to the alter and began to pray.

“Oh god I need your help. I have worked hard but the economy is not good. I have prayed at home and have asked you on many occasions if you could help me by letting me win the lottery. No matter how hard I have prayed you don’t seem to hear me.”

“Harry,” God replied, “I need your help here. Could you at least first buy a lottery ticket?”

In the same way we can’t hope to attract new clients if we don’t make an effort to tell them we exist.

We need to have a plan.

We need to target the clients we want to work for and start communicating with them.

We need to find out their needs and then tell them we can help them.

Also we need to stand out from the crowd, differentiate ourselves from our competitors.

The more we work at it the more likely success will follow.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Don’t follow the crowd! Put in place a strategy for the recovery

A professional services consultant was walking across Westminster Bridge and was shocked to see a rival from another firm on the parapet about to jump. He asked: “Why?”

The second man began to explain – the economy, difficult customers, reduced client list......

“Oh, come down and tell me all about it,” said the first man, “it can’t be as bad as all that.”

Five minutes later they were both standing on the parapet.


Some economic advisors are now saying that we are coming out of the recession, but I wonder how many firms are taking the opportunity to prepare for the upturn, whenever it happens.

Now is the time to review the situation and put in place a strategy to increase market share and be ready to secure those profitable projects when the market picks up.

It is also time to reflect on lessons learnt from the recession. Did you have a wide portfolio of clients or were you just in one market sector? Or worse still did you only have a handful of key clients? Did you have a mix of work from both the public and private sectors? If you are working internationally are you active in the growth hotspots or are you stuck in regions that are struggling to recover?

When considering the way forward you might like to follow my 7 stage process

Stage 1: Select the clients you want to work for. Be proactive. Don’t leave it to clients to come knocking on your door. Consider life time value of clients.

Stage 2: Identify the needs of the target clients. Speak to them. Get to know their industry or market inside out.

Stage 3: Shape your service to suit. Having identified your target clients needs make sure you are able to deliver the service that satisfies their needs.

Stage 4: Communicate your availability and capability to your target clients. You need to differentiate, stand out from the crowd. Put in place a communication campaign, get your key people to network and follow up on the contacts. Review your website; is it fresh and up to date? Look at what your competitors are up to.

Stage 5: Put in place all the material, (updated CV’s, case studies, etc) to enable you to write compelling proposals and give memorable presentations. Perhaps put in place a training programme for your key team members in presentation techniques

Stage 6: Review your service delivery. Conduct feedback surveys. Speak to existing clients. Find out how you can improve your service delivery. You need to keep your competitors out!

Stage 7: Trawl through your projects and gather information, statistics, photographs, obtain endorsements. These can then be placed in pre-qualification documents, proposals and tenders to show off your experience and skill

So take advantage of the quiet times to prepare for the busy times!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

A proposal your client can’t refuse. Or can they?

Harry was a single guy living at home with his father and working in the family business. He had just found out that his rich father was seriously ill, and on his father’s death he would inherit the family fortune.
Harry had a plan. He would search for a wife with whom he could travel the world and spend the fortune.

He soon spotted the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He approached her with a proposal she couldn’t refuse. “Listen,” he said to her, “I may look like just an ordinary guy, but in a few months time my rich ill father will die and I will inherit his vast fortune. Marry me and let’s travel the world together.”

The woman seemed to be very interested, asked for his business card and ten days later, she became his stepmother.

How often have we put a proposal to our client’s believing they just couldn’t refuse, only to find out that they did not find it so appealing and ended up appointing one of our competitor’s.
During the time the client is evaluating our proposal we need to keep in touch to make sure we haven’t missed something and wherever possible give further details and make our proposal more attractive. It’s often when the client goes quite that doubt sets in. It is at these times and our competitors may secure the project we were so convinced would be ours.
So this tells us that it is critical to find out what the actual needs of the clients are. We need to make sure we totally understand their situation, make sure they have the authority to appoint us and know who else could influence the decision. We also need to know who else they are talking to and what our competitors are likely to offer. When we know this we are able to put forward that irresistible proposal, showing we can deliver what our clients require with added value and benefits. We need to differentiate ourselves, set ourselves apart from the competition and never sit back assuming the job is ours until the contract is signed.