Although our president is still hesitant to mention the “R” word, the general consensus of the financial “talking heads” on news programs have stepped out and think we’re already there. Depending on what’s happening in your business, you probably feel the same way too. Everyone is squeezed and it’s not a good feeling. You need to take specific steps if your business is hard hit by this economic downturn.
It is only natural to revisit your overall business strategy when market conditions change. Duncan MacPherson, co-author of Breakthrough Business Development and co-founder of Pareto Platform, an industry leading business development firm that helps entrepreneurs improve their practice management and business development systems, has the following advice for growing your business during times of turbulence in the economy.
Maintain your fees and pricing: Remember, you are trying to attract great clients not chase them. By lowering your price, prospective customers tend to start focusing on your cost rather than your worth; such an approach can come off as projecting a reactive, and even desperate vibe to the marketplace. You don’t want to ask clients to buy something, you want them to buy into something – a mutually beneficial, long term relationship.
Turn your clients into advocates: If your clients cannot describe you to you, they cannot describe you to a friend. Make sure that your clients know and like what you do for them.
Convert your existing clients into referral-generating advocates: As a business, you are at your highest level of refer-ability during times of uncertainty in the marketplace. The best way to convince new prospects to utilize your services, is to spend more time with the people who are already convinced. In times of uncertainty in the market, many of your competitors are neglecting their clients as they attempt to actively recruit new business. If a client truly believes in your services, the likelihood that he/she will recommend you to his/her friend is extremely high.
Launch a simple call rotation campaign to the 20 percent of your clients who generate 80 percent of your business to touch base with them and ask how they are doing: You aren’t trying to sell anything or be the bearer of any profound news, just placing a courtesy call. As the conversation is winding down, simply remind your clients that as a value added service, you make yourself available to answer any questions that their friends or family members might have regarding your type of services. Simply planting the seed and opening up the option gets the concept of referrals imbedded in your clients’ minds so that they may respond when the opportunity presents itself, without making you appear needy or putting them on the spot.
Explain how your services are especially beneficial during times uncertainty in the economy: People are generally reluctant to enlist outside services during tough times especially when there is a cost involved. Outline the short and long-term benefits of your services to make yourself indispensable.
Your clients have the best business advice. If you want to improve your levels of service, ask the people who currently receive it. One of the most popular and beneficial concepts you can implement is the Client Advisory Council. As a business professional, few activities are as revealing and rewarding as simply surrounding yourself with a group of your favorite clients and probing them for ideas and insights.