We continue to build the value proposition that will convince clients and prospects that doing business with you helps to make them more successful in their own jobs or businesses. Let the important customers know that they are important by soliciting their thoughts and opinions about your products and services; let them tell you what you do that makes their work easier or more productive; and let them tell you what else you might do that would make their work still more productive or less problematic.
Step Three is to motivate customers to sell for you. When you demonstrate to customers that they’re on the VIP list, they will love that feeling of importance. They will feel even better about doing business with you and will be inclined to talk you up and make good referrals for you. Word of mouth is the most powerful form of advertising, make no mistake about it. It will give your business tremendous credibility.
Bring your top clients behind the velvet rope and into the VIP section. Oh, and make sure you devise a “rewards program” for this advisory board. Pass along a few perks to those who help you upgrade your game. Perhaps you also can make a referral or two?
So Steps One and Two set the stage for Step Three, when top customers deliver to you prospects who are ready to spend money. Personally referred prospects are likely to be pleased with your services, because they will have heard about you from one whom they trust. An expectation of success will be established.
In Step four, incorporate what you’ve learned in the interviews done in Step Two. Implement those suggestions that make good business sense. Make the necessary adjustments if you get the heads up on competitive activity or changing conditions of some sort. Don’t let your good work go to waste.
In conversations with your customers, what common themes emerge? Be sure to respect and value in your business practices what your customers respect and value. For example, let’s say you’re about ready to trim certain costs in order to stay within a particular price range—yet the VIP crowd indicates otherwise.
If leading customers crave a certain level of service, quality of merchandise, or style of packaging and they are willing to keep paying for it, don’t take it away and disappoint them! Stay the course and give them what they want. They will love you for it and show that love by handing over more money to you.
Lastly, in Step Five acknowledge your strengths and apply them to running your business. View your strengths through the prism of a restaurant. Are you front of the house—excelling at customer contact and relationship building, making sales calls, networking and schmoozing, forming strategic partnerships? Or are you back of the house—most comfortable and effective while overseeing operations, crunching numbers, devising long term strategies, negotiating a lease?
Recognize where you excel. If you work solo, perhaps outsource what can be comfortably handed over to another party (like PR or bookkeeping). If you are going into business with partners, make sure that skill sets are complementary and not competing. This will make roles and responsibilities easier to delineate and ensure that the important bases are covered, thus improving the venture’s chances for success.
So there you have it, 5 easy pieces that will help you re-examine and re-focus your business practices, optimize client loyalty and goodwill, encourage referrals and the right kind of buzz and build up your bottom line. If you can convince yourself to try the first two steps, I guarantee that you will be impressed with the results and sold on working through the entire program.
Good luck to you,