Do less achieve more

Do less achieve more

If you’re a solopreneur it makes perfect sense to charge a premium for your services and to work with less clients.

Doesn’t it?

After all there is only one of you!

I  mean you can only work with so many people at one time and remain effective, right?

You don’t want to push yourself too hard, spread yourself too thin and risk burnout.

The transition from “average clients” to “high-end clients” over the past few years has transformed my business and my lifestyle.

Attracting high end clients will make a huge difference in the profitability of your business

When you master the art of attracting high-end clients into your business you’ll have more money, more time and more satisfaction that the work you are doing really does make a difference.

Premium prices attract quality clients

High end clients don’t care about the cost of your services as long as they can be certain they will get superior quality.

The experience of working together is one of partnership and possibility. Work doesn’t feel like work. It’s more like play.

High end clients are ideal clients

Ideal clients don’t resist you.

They’ve paid a premium to work with you and they are invested in their outcome.

They co-operate with you as you work together to make significant changes in their businesses and lives.

Remember that high-end clients are not looking for quick fixes.

They want quality.

They want you to connect with them in a deep and meaningful way.

Show them that they are unique and special.

High end clients are long-term clients

By working closely with your clients you will get to know and understand their needs so much better.

You’ll be able to do more that will make a long lasting impact.

And when you charge premium prices, you will gladly give better service, because you’ll feel you are being valued for what you are worth.

Simplify your business

Simplify your business

There’s an old business rule that 20 percent of your customers produce 80 percent of your sales.

And it’s true.

Not all customers are created equal.

Far from it.

That being the case, why would you chase after customers who pay you the minimum amount of money and waste the maximum amount of your time?

Doesn’t make sense, does it?

There has to be a better way to do business.

Well there is!

Your goal should be to zero in on those 20 percent of customers who are essential for your prosperity.

Weed out your rotten clients

You know the ones.

The ones that take you away from servicing your most lucrative 20 percent.

And how do you do that?

Simple.

By raising your fees.

If you really want to see rotten clients run for the hills … raise your fees!

You might be thinking, “I can’t afford to lose any customers, so I’ll just focus on growing relationships with my best clients.”

But how will you have time to do the work needed to grow those good relationships if you keep those rotten clients?

Make maximum money with minimum clients

Raising your fees will attract your ideal clients into your business.

You’ll wind up making more money and working a lot less.

When people are willing to pay for the service you worked so hard to create, you will feel validated.

You’ll do your best work and you’ll form a special bond with your clients.

There is no better feeling than working with someone who is truly invested in their own outcome.

They hold a special place in your heart.

I have clients who pay me multiple six figures to produce the results I provide.

Customers with whom I have built strong, long-lasting relationships.

Customers I brought on board with 6 months contracts that my business is still working with 5 years later.

And you can too.

You are in the problem solving business

Remember you are in the problem solving business.

Not the “I want to sell you something” business.

You just have to be able to provide deep and and meaningful transformations.

Then zero in on those customers who value the quality you provide and want your best work.

Biggest challenge for startups

Biggest challenge for startups

Getting customers

The people we know go into business with the intention of using their expertise to produce outstanding results for their clients.

Many overlook how difficult it is to acquire new customers.

They tend to shy away from self-promotion.

Of course without regular clients a business is sure to fail.

Preventing failure requires you to undergo a fundamental mind shift.

Your real role is sales, and your success depends on it.

The remedy?

As much as you may loathe the idea of selling and prefer to spend your time on service delivery, you must accept that you need to focus your efforts and energies on getting clients.

At least until you have enough customers to sustain the business.

Then put in place a reliable plan for continued client acquisition.

Unfortunately the amount of time, effort and energy required for these activities is far greater than most new business owners anticipate.

But they are key to the business surviving and thriving.

More often than not when a small business owner struggles or fails it’s not their skills or technical expertise that caused their failure.

It’s their inability to set in place a proven sales and marketing plan.

The worst case scenario is waiting until that first source of new business dries up and due to a shortage of work, you have to lower your rates and take on any client just to pay the bills.

If you’re like the service business owners we know, you have very unique needs and challenges with respect to your marketing and sales strategy.

You want to fill your business with clients you love who respect your time, value, and expertise.

Clients who are willing to pay you what you are worth.

We’ll put together a focused sales and marketing plan that helps you have the time of your life building a profitable, sustainable business, and developing repeat customers who love what you do.

How a hug or a handshake can destroy your business

How a hug or a handshake can destroy your business

“Hello. Of course I trust you!”

 

Starting work with a new client can be an exciting experience.

But what if the relationship goes wrong and the paperwork isn’t in order?

Over the years I’ve been burned, especially when I worked on a commission basis only.

Don’t get me wrong, most of my clients have been delightful people to work with, and excellent payers.

Unfortunately, despite the best-laid plans, I’ve had my day in court.

Even though I was successful in winning a six-figure judgement I ended up with nothing because the client pulled a smart move and the company went belly up.

These days I ask for payment upfront, or for a good faith deposit to show that my customer has the intention of completing the deal.

Do yourself a favour.

Before you commit to a business relationship, protect yourself by creating a contract your client will sign.
After all, this is your livelihood at stake.

Types of contracts

A contract can be anything from an email to a very simple one-page document or a 100 page agreement (depending on the subject matter), or a verbal promise, or simply a hug or a handshake deal.

Whatever form it takes, even a quote on a scrap of paper, if you agree to provide a service for money, and your customer is promising to pay you for it, you have entered into a contract.

And the agreement you’ve made is legally binding.

But beware!

There are definite benefits in having a written contract.

Benefits of a written contract

Most important it provides proof of what was agreed between you and your customer.

It will help to prevent any misunderstandings or disputes down the track by making the agreement clear from the outset.

It will give you security and peace of mind knowing you have work for a particular period of time and precisely how much you will be paid for your services.

It should specify how either party can end the contract before the work is completed and, if applicable, set out the full terms and conditions of any penalties, refunds or guarantees.

Risks of not having a written contract

If your contract is not in writing you may have to rely on each other’s word, or memory.

Misunderstandings happen all the time.

If the matter should proceed to litigation the court may not be able to enforce the contract because there is no proof of its existence or its terms.

Verbal contracts

Verbal contracts work well only if there are no disputes.

At the very least, you should write down the main points that you agreed to, and avoid relying on memory alone.

And make sure you keep any paperwork or communication associated with your agreement, like emails, text messages, etc.

Get advice

If you need advice or assistance in drawing up a contract for your services, speak with your business adviser or mentor.

Dump the duds

Dump the duds

Several years ago I met with a prospective client who’d just relocated with his family from interstate.

He had an established business, a great product, and a very impressive past projects portfolio.

He was a referral from a valued associate.

Unfortunately he did not fit my ideal client profile.

Nonetheless, I was confident I could rustle up enough work to get him off to a flying start at his new location, so against my better judgement I decided to reach out and work with him.

We struck a deal on a commission only basis.

Customer deposits would fund the cost of his materials.

I would be paid 50% of his net profits once the jobs were completed and monies were received in full.

There were no out-of-pocket expenses to retain my services.

No payment unless I produced results.

A definite “win” situation … for him

We backed up our agreement with a written contract.

I did my research and located a neighbouring area emerging as an industrial hotspot.

After a couple of days of pounding the pavement in mid-February’s subtropical humidity I brought back sufficient work to keep him and his assistant busy for the next six to eight weeks.

He was rapt.

Everything was coming along swimmingly.

That is until the workshop picked up pace and projects got into full swing.

Then it all started to go south.

His equipment broke down.

His so-called “useless” offsider went walkabout.

Deliveries were short.

Customers were difficult.

His had issues with his kids.

He had issues with his wife.

He was about to go under.

There was a lot at stake for both of us so …

I threw him a lifeline!

I dropped what I was doing and raced around to pick up materials from suppliers, placate his now rattled customers and renegotiate contracts.

Against all odds we managed to sidestep an impending disaster.

When the jobs were finally completed to everyone’s satisfaction we were both exhausted.

Don’t know why but as settlement day drew close I had a gut feeling he would not be forthcoming with commissions.

Ta-dahh!

Always trust your gut.

He wanted to renege on our deal.

In his view it wasn’t fair he had to share half his profit pie when he was the one who’d done all the hard yakka!

Forget about the fact there’d be no pie if it wasn’t for me.

I managed to get most of what was owing.

Eventually.

Begrudgingly.

Despite my best efforts we did not part on friendly terms.

His final remittance advice came via email with an attachment.

It was a Trojan virus.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing!

If you currently work with clients who are less than ideal, do yourself a favour and dump them.

Do not prostitute your integrity

Partner only with like-minded people who truly value your time and expertise.

People who appreciate the results you help them to achieve.

People who are only too happy to pay you what you are worth.

Why do people buy?

Why do people buy?

Do you know the number one reason why your customers buy from you?

It stands to reason that in order to be successful in sales or business the focus has to be on solving customers’ problems.

The more problems you solve the more successful you will become.

Being proficient at what you do is obviously important.

Having sales skills is helpful.

However, whenever a customer is presented with what seems to be a level playing field between competing service providers they are always attracted to the person or the company that possesses …

“Yes” energy

“Yes” energy is that intrinsic mixture of vibrancy, enthusiasm and optimism that naturally exudes from someone who is highly confident.

Someone who believes anything is possible.

It’s communicated in the way you present yourself.

The manner in which you depict your services in your marketing and sales campaigns and materials.

Being around people who possess “yes” energy is contagious

It makes customers feel good about themselves and about doing business with you.

It causes them to burst through their own lethargy and disinterest.

It encourages them to believe and to take action.

If you employ “Yes” energy in your business you will connect and engage with your customers at the highest and most satisfying levels.

You will form long lasting meaningful relationships with people who come back again and again to do business with you.

The most important time to tap into your “Yes” energy is when you are engaged in prospecting for new business.

How else will you be able to excite and enthuse your potential customer to do business with you unless you are operating at your highest energy level?

Your positive energy will serve you well.

It will help surround you with like-minded people you want to enlist as your ideal customers.

And it will dispel the naysayers, the type of people you do not want to do business with anyway.

Think you cannot sell yourself?

“Yes” energy is not pretentious or exaggerated.

It’s not about being “salesy” or pushy.

It’s you operating at your highest energy level.

When you are physically and mentally in the zone it won’t feel painful or embarrassing when it comes to “selling yourself”.

It won’t matter to you whether or not people like you or buy your service.

You’ll manage to easily put things into perspective.

You’ll accept that rejection is part of the process.

It’s not personal.

Its only business.

Set yourself free!

Say goodbye to that negative all-or-nothing mentality responsible for depleting your enthusiasm and producing less than satisfactory results.

By altering your thoughts, your behaviour and your posture you can stand tall in your own power.

You will want to take bold actions.

You will embrace risky ideas.

Start seeing the forest rather than focusing on the trees.

The super confident you will find it easy to build rapport with strangers.

You’ll enjoy your interactions with people.

They’ll feel natural and effortless.

Regardless of the outcome.

Remember to leave people with a warm and fuzzy feeling for having met you even when they have no need for your service.

Because you can bet they will call upon you if and when they do!

 

Culling unprofitable clients

Culling unprofitable clients

If you’re like most service based entrepreneurs and small business owners I know you’d rather be doing something you enjoy, the reason you went into business in the first place, than to be filling the sales funnel and spreading the word.

But in order to be in a better place next year than you are today you know you need to get out of your comfort zone and work on growing your business.

Try looking at the business through your customers’ eyes.

Because when you’re in charge of the day-to-day operations it can be so easy to focus on your needs and how your business can best serve you.

Sometimes all the experience and talent in the world is not enough to keep your customers from wandering off to your competitors.

If this is happening to you then maybe it’s time to take a long, hard look at yourself and your processes.

Remember that customers want great experiences, so see if you can work on delivering something memorable.

Make yourself emotionally attractive

Perhaps your work doesn’t bring you the fulfilment and the joy it once did because dealing with difficult clients leaves you feeling weary and careworn at the end of the working day?

Is it possible it’s beginning to show in your attitude?

In order to produce positive emotions in other people you need to be happy, feel good and be personable in your dealings with them.

Perhaps you need to work on becoming more emotionally attractive?

People tend to remember how you made them feel rather than what you did for them.

If you are generous in your attitude towards your customers you’ll find they will respond favourably by becoming loyal to you and by marketing your business to their circle of influence, without you even asking.

You know that certain attitudes or outcomes lead to or create more of the same attitudes or outcomes, so practice a little give-and-take with your customers.

Attract your ideal customers

If you desire to work with people you like and who treat you with respect, you need to attract clients who energize and inspire you, people who value your effort and expertise and who are willing to pay you what you are worth.

When you work with clients you love you will truly enjoy the work you are doing.

You will be happier, more energetic and more productive.

This will drive you to produce even better results and, in the process, attract better quality clients into your business.
The truth is you are the company you keep.

It is important to choose your clients with as much care as you choose your friends.

Get rid of negative people

I enjoy helping my clients prune their current list of less than ideal customers that leave them feeling empty and drained or frustrated.

You owe it to yourself to do the same.

It’s true that you’re never going to be able to please everyone.

At the same time you don’t want to make your life more difficult than it needs to be by dealing with clients who possess characteristics or behaviours you despise.

Set up a filtering system

Decide what filters you want to run your perfect clients through.

Get specific.

The economic status of a client is certainly a factor to consider, but there are many others.

What are their values?

With whom do they associate?

Make a list of their personal characteristics.

Also, what particular traits do they have in common with each other.

This will help you identify with whom you will and will not work with in the future.

In time it will help you to become recognised and sought out as a specialist in your field because you are producing specific results for a specific group of people.

And the more specialised you become, the more successful you will become.

What customers really want

What customers really want

If customers could diagnose and solve their own problems they would.

They seek out assistance because they’re stuck and they need help.

There are a number of reasons a customer will choose one service provider over another.

They want someone who is willing to work with them to achieve a mutual goal by being responsive to their concerns.

Ideally they want you to become integral to their success.

Customers do not like being sold to, but they expect you to have confidence in your ability to achieve the results they need.

They expect you to listen intently to their issues.

Customers understand that every business decision entails risk and they want your help to minimise that risk.

They want to know the pitfalls and what steps you can take to make sure these problems won’t occur.

They expect you to craft a compelling solution.

Consultative and solution selling have always been key to a service provider’s success

Customers expect you to be thorough and straightforward.

They want things explained to them in plain, simple language.

They expect you to be all-inclusive when describing your services.

Last minute surprises like upgrades or add-ons in an attempt to make a more profitable sale can be irritating.

More than anything customers want to know they can trust you.

You need to prove to your customer that buying from you is the right decision for them.

The 5 most important things a customer wants

1. Value for money

Many customers regard “value for money” as being more important than price.

A significant factor in a customer’s decision making is pricing and competitiveness from a value perspective.

 

 2. Customer service

Customers expect to receive more than just standard customer service.They want to feel important and supported at every stage of the sales cycle.

More emphasis needs to be placed on the overall customer “experience”.

 

3. Reliability

Customers want to know you are reliable; that you will keep the promises you make to them.

Broken promises could have a devastating effect upon you and your business.

 

 4. Quality

The quality of your service needs to be consistent.

The link to price and value is essential.

You owe it to yourself and your customers to remain as good as or better than others of a comparable nature.

 

 5.  Ease of doing business

Customers want to obtain quick and easy access to your products and/or service offerings.

They want simplified, successful interactions that reduce the touch-points required to complete a task.

 

Don’t let customers walk all over you

Don’t let customers walk all over you

When I first started out in my early 20’s I wasn’t as particular as I am today about the clients I brought on board.

I was primarily focused on establishing myself and building a reputation.

I busted a gut trying to keep my new clients happy and my enemies at bay by over-delivering on #hashtag #everydamnthing.

Nothing was too much trouble for this multi-tasked go-getter.

Over time the care and attention I lavished on my clients took its toll.

I was exhausted, highly stressed, and more emotional than usual (and that’s saying something).

I became aware that I had attracted into my business people who were only too willing to take advantage of me.

Quit being so eager to please!

You know that a disproportionate number of people-pleasers happen to be women?

Hmmm.

Believe me, in business you cannot afford to be a people-pleaser.

You will run yourself ragged for little to no reward.

I learned early on that customers can be incredulously over-demanding.

Some assume you’ll do anything to win their business and, if you let them, they’ll walk all over you and wipe their feet.

Back in those days it was a man’s world.

Some of my clients were old enough to be my father, even my grandfather.

Don’t get me wrong, I could hold my own, but a few really tried to impose on me.

Like the prospect who begged me to negotiate payment of an invoice with a delinquent customer so he could afford to retain my services.

Like the day I was asked to pick up urgently needed materials enroute to an appointment at my client’s office when the depot was located way across the other side of town through peak hour traffic.

Like the time a client handed me a wad of banknotes and said “Lunch is on me today”,  followed by “Could you pick up a decent birthday gift for the wife?”

“You’re a woman, you’d have a better idea than me as to what she’d like.”

I asked myself What the hell is going on here?

I was being treated more like an office assistant or a dutiful daughter than a sales and marketing consultant.

I’m a professional business woman, not a go-to girl!

I began to decline excessive requests on my precious time in the nicest way possible.

My valued clients had no problem with this because they respected me and I was getting them the results they wanted.

The cheapskates and the time-wasters bailed because there was always some other mug out there willing to do more for less.

Maintain professional boundaries

I was determined never again to go out of my way to do something beyond my contractual obligations to be nice just for the sake of being nice.

From then on when prospecting for new clients, if a potential customer seemed a bit suss, showed any sign of being a user, I’d pull the pin.

It just wasn’t worth the risk.

My advice is to set boundaries from the get-go and never ever take on more than you should in the hope it will cement the relationship you have with your client.

Because 9 times out of 10 it won’t.

Being too obliging is sure to get you into trouble.

It will cost you time.

It will cost you money.

It will take you away from the clients who treat you the way you deserve, the ones who are worthy of your care and attention.

The last thing you want to do is to make your life more difficult than it needs to be by filling your business with over-demanding customers who make your skin crawl and hurt your bottom line.

Defining your ideal customer

Defining your ideal customer

Who Is Your Ideal Customer?

 

A lot of people I come into contact with say their biggest challenge is finding ideal customers.

They complain that their existing customers can be difficult to do business with, that they expect them to provide their services at bargain basement prices.

Instead of blaming their customers for this behaviour it makes better sense to stop wasting their time dealing with the same people over and over again in the hope of achieving a different outcome!

Instead they should be asking themselves “Who would I most like to do business with?”

The key is to find customers you really enjoy working with and, in turn, customers who really enjoy working with you.

Develop A Customer Profile

It’s important to be very specific when developing a profile of who fits the mould of your perfect customer.

This type of customer may not be as easy to find as those you’ve taken on previously without being particularly selective due to an urgent need of new revenue.

Keep in mind that when your target market is well-focused you will spend far less time struggling in your business.

It won’t be necessary to waste so many hours talking to customers who are not receptive.

You won’t encounter as many objections.

And because your customers are happy with the service you provide you’ll get repeat business and enjoy long-term trust-based relationships.

Once you have defined your ideal customer the next thing to do is to go through your customer base and determine how many of your existing customers meet that profile.

What are the particular traits they share?

Use these criteria to review your list of prospects and to identify those you would prefer to do business with.

Target Your Ideal Customer

Focus all your efforts on attracting the attention of that precise type of customer.

Start off by targeting the specific niche to which they belong.

You can then branch off into sub-niches based on the target market you are pursuing.

In this way you will be dealing only with prospects that are ideally positioned to become your best customers.

Your selling efforts will become easier and feel more natural.

By highlighting your area of specialty you will become more attractive to your prospective customers than your competitors.

How Do You Attract Their Attention?

How does your service offering solve your customer’s most pressing problem?

You need to uncover their needs and concentrate on selling to them in a way that best satisfies those needs.

Put Your Focus On High Performers

By systematically culling customers who aren’t generating profits and ruthlessly screening new ones you will be able to create a profitable customer base.

You Don’t Have to Work Harder, Just Smarter

Enroll only those customers that fit your ideal criteria.

The perfect way to do business is to perform for your customers and expect your customers to perform for you.