The last 2 posts covered the first four of the killer mistakes you can make that will not only make you lose your biggest and best client but possibly your entire company. Our first blog post in this series covered: 1) Not meeting the client’s expectations and 2) Mishandling a client crisis. Then, our second related blog post addressed: 3) Taking on more than you can handle and 4) Putting all your eggs in one basket.
Today, we’re going to talk about the fifth killer mistake:
“Up Cash Creek Without a Paddle”
Even when business is good there’s still a chance of running out of cash flow. You have to always be prepared for a slow in sales or a surge in expenses.
One of the keys to balancing your cash flow is to get your clients to pay on time. This can seem like a nightmare at times, but it’s absolutely essential to running a successful business. Here are some tips to speed up the payment process:
- Always send invoices on time and adjust your records for potential audits.
- Learn how the client processes payments on their side and find out precisely where to send invoices.
- Find out who’s in charge of processing orders and payment, so you know who to contact if needed.
- Have a follow-up procedure in place, just in case.
- As a last resort, call your contact to ask questions.
- Always make sure your invoices are correct before sending them out.
You also need to make sure your cash flow is protected. You can do this by:
- Always know which accounts need to be paid and when.
- Negotiate with your suppliers for the lowest cost possible.
- Have a bank contingency plan in place.
- Build your own inventory network.
These are all great ways to protect the cash flow of your business and prepare for large client transitions and slow sales.
These last few lessons are all about finding and catching your big fish clients. These clients are essential to your success and your need to take the time to work through each of these steps carefully and correctly for the ultimate and long-lasting customer experience.
If you would like to receive and discuss more in-depth additional Cash Flow Optimization Strategies to insulate and expand your business, please contact us.
On a related note, is your region, business, or favorite retailer impacted by the national coin shortage? If so, please leave a comment with your firsthand account below.
In our most recent post, we covered two of the five biggest mistakes you can make in dealing with “big fish” clients. Now, we’ll cover the third mistake, which is “Taking On More Than You Can Handle,” and the fourth one which entails “Putting All Your Eggs In One Basket.”
Taking On More Than You Can Handle
When you take on too much, your business can’t keep up and therefore you can easily lose control of everything and find yourself barely functioning. No doubt, you want your business to be successful. However, you need to have a plan for how you will handle the growth. Your clients expect great customer service and high-quality products/services, but they lack a deep understanding and high level of appreciation for your behind the scenes operations to get those things done. They just expect it.
But, as a business owner, how do you know when you are taking on more than you can handle?
To uncover whether you are in over your head due to rapid growth and thus negatively impacting your customer experience, be on the lookout for these alert signals:
- Clients are increasingly upset.
- Clients’ needs aren’t being met.
- Clients are suffering from you always trying to keep up with new business.
- SLAs are being missed.
- Employee morale is low.
- Quality of deliverables and service is declining due to the vast amount of work.
- You have to react in emergency mode to save accounts.
- You feel as if there is a new “fire” to put out every day or week.
- Profits are going down.
- You are just trying to pick up the pieces of your business.
- Your clients/customers leave.
- Resources are being reallocated.
- Resources are vastly lacking.
- You, your team, and your clients are frequently in a panic.
There’s also a trick called the “Mock Fish Plan”. This plan can help you react positively when you are facing some or all of the aforementioned trouble signs so that you can get your business back on track. Specifically, this plan will:
- Help increase sales in a short period of time.
- Alter your products/services for the better.
- Fulfill the promises you made to your clients.
There are six steps to this plan:
- Bring in your best team and have them all help to meet the Tier 1 client’s needs.
- Review your operational system.
- Anticipate future problems better.
- Communicate more clearly and proactively.
- Include costs in your quotes.
- Always have a back-up plan.
Putting All Your Eggs in One Basket
It’s imperative that you do not allow your company to become dependent on any one large client. Eventually, or for certain periods, there is going to be a slowing down period with your big fish. In order to stay in the game, you need to diversify and not put all your eggs into one basket as they say.
If you’ve ever mishandled a big fish client, you could drive away potential fish as well. In order to keep balance and prepare for a strong future, there are a few things you can do, including:
- Stay in the loop and try to know what’s going on inside your number one client’s company.
- Constantly reinvent yourself and stay at the top of your industry.
- Stay exclusive.
- Try to secure multi-year commitments and contracts.
- Spread your contracts out.
- Price your products/services correctly.
You also need to work to reduce your dependency on your big fish. This can generally be measured in sales or profits. Take a look back at the process in prior blogs we’ve used thus far to snag more fish to keep this all in balance.
These are the ways you can help avoid the critical mistakes that can make you lose your best clients that you worked so hard to win. Next time, we’ll address the last of the killer mistakes and how to prevent it from jolting your business.
As a reminder, our Small Business Growth Academy has all the tips and tricks you need in your marketing outreach, business development, and client retention efforts ranging from lead generation to sales conversion to client nurturing strategies, including many pre-built industry accelerators designed to shorten your learning curve, implementation duration, and time to market or launch.
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There are five critical mistakes you can make that will kill a deal with any client, big or small…new or existing. They are:
- Not meeting the client’s expectations.
- Mishandling a client crisis.
- Taking on more than you can handle.
- Putting all your eggs in one basket.
- “Up cash creek without a paddle.”
Each one or a combination of these can not only kill the client relationship but also have the ability to take down your company as well.
Over our next few blogs, we’ll drill down into each one of these. In this lesson, we’ll cover the first two.
Not Meeting The Client’s Expectations
It’s essential you give your client exactly what you promised during the negotiation portion of your sales cycle. 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 uncover where it all went wrong.
A couple of matters could have contributed to this problem:
- Bad salesmanship
- This could mean the salesperson was trying too hard to seal the deal and didn’t listen to the client’s needs. We all know this unfortunately happens a lot.
- Lack of communication
- This breakdown occurs between the salesperson and your service operations department. This event occurs more than you think. Inevitably, the sales rep gets blamed by the client and internally, but that is not always fair. Many companies need to improve their onboarding and transition management processes to ensure the new players in client service or the implementation team are up to speed on the client’s primary objectives and ready to properly support the new client even though they were not involved in the sales pursuit discussions like the salesperson was.
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 (both internally and externally).
- Define success.
- Don’t vanish once the deal is closed.
Mishandling a Client Crisis
A client crisis will happen, but how you respond and fix it will define your company and set the tone for future interactions 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 to the client no matter who is at fault.
- Act swiftly and effectively.
- Step in, connect the dots, 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 destroy a top-tier client relationship, 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.
Next time, we’ll talk about the 3rd and 4th killer mistakes you can make in working with your upper echelon clientele.
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The Rule of 1% is simply defined as adding to your customer service one percent at a time. Before you can do this, though, your team must be consistently adhering to your policies and procedures and be meeting your SLAs or it will never work. This one percent may seem small, but if you approach the customer experience transformation vision for your company with baby steps, you will benefit from huge returns over time. Remember, it’s not a sprint. Rather, it’s a marathon. Before you know it, you’ll be exceeding client expectations and cultivating more customer loyalty and generating more repeat business than ever before.
Avoid doing too much at once or you’ll set yourself up for failure. Think of the confidence you and your employees will have when you improve one percent each week. By the end of a year, you’ll have improved more than 50%!
While rules and standards are necessary for growth, it’s key to always be flexible with your best customers. For instance, most retailers only allow a set number of items into a dressing room to reduce the risk of shoplifting. However, doing so generally restricts the large percentage of people who are not stealing from you. Flexibility is the key to what you deliver to your customers and consistency is the key to how you deliver it.
The bottom line is customers rely on you to deliver what you promise. If you spend too much on bulky advertising that promises more than you can deliver, even your best intentions will unravel quickly and you will fail. Focus on your vision and take baby steps to turn your satisfied customers into “Raving Fans“.
I hope you’ve learned a lot about superior customer service and how it’s essential to your overall success. If you need help with any of the steps we’ve gone through over the last four lessons try our GUIDED TOUR and get access to some of the best resources, tools and business elevation coaches available.
In upcoming posts we’re going to explore strategies of landing larger, ideal clients and how to make them customers for life. Until then, to your success!
In our last post we talked about how to uncover what your customers want out of a positive shopping experience. Today, we’ll explore the concept of “Deliver +1” and how it can take your customer service to the next level. I’ve decided to split up this blog into two entries and the next related post will address the “1% Rule“.
Consistency is the key to any unparalleled customer service experience. If you want to take your satisfied customers to “Raving Fan” status, you absolutely must go above and beyond the average customer service experience.
There are three ways to develop consistency:
Simple and Clear Customer Service Options
We sometimes get so caught up in giving customers what they want that we begin to sail away from our original vision. Instead, stay true to your vision and offer one or two solid customer service techniques that will distinguish you from the competition. You need to fine-tune the current systems you’re using before you can add anything to the mix. There’s nothing worse than launching a new program when you haven’t even worked out the kinks of an old system.
Once you know what you’re going to offer, you need to have a system in place to execute it flawlessly every time. This system needs to utilize the right people in the right roles and responsibilities as well as technology that guarantees a positive experience every time. Emphasis needs to be placed on the results, which ultimately is the satisfaction of the customer.
Tremendous Staff Training
Once you have your system in place you need to train people to use it properly and efficiently. This helps your people deliver the results your customers are looking for. Since training is essential for the system to thrive and for all your people to work together cohesively, employee appreciation and ongoing training and continuing education will go a long way.
I hope this has given you a look into what you need to do in order to have a quality customer service process in place. If you need additional assistance, our RevSherpas Growth Academy has a wealth of resources, tools and coaching on not only client service, retention, and reactivation, but also lead generation, marketing, and business development. Check it out to elevate to the top of your industry TODAY!