Frank Speaking Live

Monday, November 10, 2008

Managing your business through challenging times by Frank Furness

Right now most businesses and individuals are faced with challenging times. Every Television station, radio station and newspaper is reporting on the doom and gloom (how is it that they rarely report good news) and the more people hear it, the more they believe it.

The good news is that everyone has a choice. Here are my strategies to manage your business through challenging times

Cutting or apportioning costs - is there anywhere where costs can be cut that will have little detrimental effect on the business. Now is the time to take a good look at the balance sheet and staff and see who and what is giving the company the best returns and who and what are not, and then making some difficult but effective decisions.

Culling time wasters – we all know the Pareto principle, that 80% of your profits come from 20% of your clients. Every organisation has those wonderful 20% of clients who are great to deal with, always pay on time and will stay loyal through challenging times. These clients are pure gold! How well do you look after them and how many referrals do you ask for from them?

Here is an effective exercise – write down the names of your top ten clients and then write down ten things you know about each of these clients. Get everyone at your company to do the same thing and you might be surprised at how little they know about your top clients. How do they like to be communicated with (email, phone or face to face), how often do they like to be contacted, what are their prime motivators in doing business with you, who are their top clients (and plenty more).

This is the time to really take care of these top clients, make them feel special and let them know that you appreciate their business.

Next you have your 60% of clients who will stay with you if you look after them, but could just as easily move somewhere else if they feel neglected. Right now is the time to keep in touch and ensure that all your staff really takes care of these ‘steady eddy’ clients.

Eight percent of your problems, headaches and unpaid accounts will come from your bottom 20% of your clients. They will give you eighty percent of your hassles.

Do you have a client that when you see a message from them or an email, you immediately tense up because you know it is going to be bad news. Now is the time to rid yourself of these clients and concentrate on your top twenty who will easily replace the business with no headaches and you will sleep easier.

The best decision I ever made was to stop working with two organisations that had given me a fair amount of work over the years, but more stress and hassles than you can imagine. Every time they booked me for a talk or training it would be a huge fee negotiation and then having to wait to get paid. I easily replaced them with clients that I enjoy working with.

Develop a 10 touch plan – how many times a year do you stay in contact with your clients, remember out of sight is out of mind. If you are not visible, your competition will be!
The easiest way is to have an effective newsletter or ezine. Take a look at Constant contact and read my blog article on how to develop an effective newsletter.

Sharpen your sales skills – right now is the time you should be sharpening the skills of all your sales people. This is not the time to cut costs on sales training, but rather the time to invest in your sales people and make sure that their skills are sharp and they will be bringing in the sales that will see you through the challenging times.

Sharpen their skills in every area: prospecting and finding new business, telesales, developing rapport, asking effective questions, finding and presenting creative and valuable solutions and closing and overcoming objections.

Now is the perfect time for a ‘back to basics’ course and of course this is where I can assist, so please give me a call on 44 (0) 1923 248200 for training, coaching, mentoring or to speak at your conference. Take a look at some of my latest testimonials.

Also, take a look at my 15 CD ‘Sales Strategies for Small Business and SME’s’ course.

Upsell and cross sell – McDonalds are masters of this. By asking one simple question – ‘do you want to go large’ they upsell most of their customers. Are you doing the same with your customers?

Do they know all the products or services you have to offer and are all your sales people up selling? In the next issue I will be writing an article on cross and up selling.

Increase your marketing efforts – this is the time you cannot sit back and wait for the clients to call. You need to up your marketing efforts dramatically. Here are some ideas you can use:
Create an awareness of your company:
• Sponsor a local sports team
• Sponsor local industry awards – donate a trophy for the best new business in your area with your local chamber of commerce. When the award is given, you will get great free publicity and be featured in your local newspapers
Let people know exactly what you do
• Create brochures or marketing materials that are client focused and not ‘you’ focused.
• See your website as a sales and marketing vehicle. Ensure you have the right sales copy, your website is search engine optimised and you know the exact statistics of your traffic. If you need assistance in this area, please contact me for consulting that will have your website driving traffic and sales.
• Newsletter – let your clients know exactly what you do in your newsletter
• Provide ‘subject matter’ expert articles in clients trade press.
Let your clients know that you can do it better than your competition
• Speaking as subject matter experts at industry conferences
• Speaking at individual client conferences and meetings

Taking action
More face to face meetings and pitches than ever before with well qualified prospects.

Set Goals and stay motivated – now is the time more than ever to set your goals and stay motivated. Avoid all the negative press and people and reward yourself for your achievements. Take a look at 'It's all About YOU'

Opt out of the recession – we all have a choice, mine is to opt out of the recession and concentrate on areas of my business that are profitable.

Frank Furness CSP CFP is a professional speaker and trainer specialising in sales and technology. He has educated, entertained and inspired audiences in 48 countries.

His publications and sales CDs have been sold globally. He is the author of ‘Walking with Tigers - Success Secrets of Top Business Leaders’ and ‘How to Find New Clients and Business’

For more information or to sign up for the free ‘Sales Tips & Ideas’ newsletter, email or telephone+ 44 (0) 1923 248200.

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Unknown said...

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Jonathan Marks said...

I would add one extra tip here, which actually applies to this post. Use tags wisely in these blogposts so that people can find these words of wisdom by using Google, and the search engines that are starting to appear through twitter. But what Frank says here about looking after your loyal customers in hard times is so true. I also like the fact that Frank is using sharing as a strategy...