5 Ways to Make Video Conference Calls More Productive

Last week I set up a video conference call with a client who was on the West Coast, while his assistant was on the East Coast. During the call I learned a few tips I’ll use on my next call.

1. Learn a few stealth moves.

If you decide to leave the room during the call, make sure it’s during a time when no one will notice. When you’re the next one on the agenda, it will be fairly obvious to everyone on the call that you’ve left your computer. [Read more...]

Did You Hear? Listening Pays Off

source: ky_olsen

I come from a big, loud family so the word “quiet” isn’t in our vocabulary. We don’t believe in long pauses either. So when I jumped into the business world I figured out quickly that if I wanted to succeed in sales and grow my business, I’d have to learn to be quiet.

These four tips can help you make sure you don’t miss what your clients are saying.

Know when to stop talking.

When you’re selling, it’s natural to go on and on about why someone should buy your product or service, or to try to impress a prospect with everything you know about your product or industry. A prospect may start out interested in your sales pitch, but if you do all of the talking, don’t be surprised if they shut down as their eyes glaze over.

To read the rest of my guest post on Work Your Way, click here.

 

How to Get Past Gatekeepers

When I worked in a corporate office — I’ve tried to block out that part of my life — a vendor called my office and thought I was the receptionist. He was rude, condescending and had no trouble showing his true colors.

He never knew why, but I did business with his competitor instead of with him.

No matter how talented you are, or how great your business reputation is, at some point you’re going to have to get past business gatekeepers. Consider these three gate-crashing tips.

Don’t push harder

When you can’t get through to someone, your first thought may be to push harder. Instead of making progress, you’ll aggravate the person on the other end of the line. At that point you essentially squelch any chance you may have had of seeing or talking with the person they’re protecting. And by the way, yelling, “Don’t you know who I am?” rarely works. [Read more...]

4 Ways to Send E-Mails Without Annoying Others

Does everyone read every e-mail you send? For most of us that’s the goal, but without realizing it you may be doing a few things that keep others from opening your e-mails.

Unlike the list of e-mail mistakes I published in another post, here’s a list of things you can do to ensure that others enjoy, not dread, your e-mails.

1. Use bcc.

Some people don’t realize that bcc means blind carbon copy, which means don’t make everyone on your e-mail list mad by listing their email addresses in your mass mailings. In the “To” section, enter your email address and in the “bcc” section, enter everyone else’s addresses. When you send a mass e-mail, no one else’s address shows up except for yours. [Read more...]

5 Ways to Show Your Clients You Care

source: schipulites

My friend’s grandma used to say, “Don’t do special for me.” She didn’t want anyone to make a fuss over her because she knew her family cared and they didn’t need to prove it to her.

What about your clients? Do they know you care? Meeting your clients’ needs, completing their projects on time, and helping their business grow is part of your commitment to your clients. It’s also one way to show them indirectly that you truly take an interest in them.

Consider these five easy, inexpensive, yet more direct ways to show your clients that you care.

#1 Congratulate your clients on milestone events

When a client is celebrating a birthday, anniversary or a promotion, you can send an e-card, but a card you send via snail mail can mean even more. Don’t just sign the card…include a short, personal note. Although you’ll want to acknowledge happy occasions, don’t forget the sad ones. One of my clients recently lost her husband to cancer, so I sent her a card and made a donation to the charity included in her husband’s obituary. It was a small gesture but I wanted her to know that I was thinking of her during a difficult time for her and her family.

To read the rest of my guest post on Success Your Way, click here.

 

How to Keep the Promises You Make

source: discoodoni

A friend of mine keeps as many promises as she breaks. Why are we still friends? The main reason is that the promises she makes to me aren’t important.

When she promises to meet me for coffee, I enter the time in my iPhone and then before I leave my house, I send her a text to confirm. Sometimes she remembers and sometimes she doesn’t.

While those broken promises aren’t earth-shattering and haven’t affected our friendship, if she did the same thing to her clients, her client list were dry up. To a client, any broken promise is important, so you need to do what you can to keep every promise you make.

Start with these tips.

Don’t promise what you can’t deliver

A huge corporate client with a large budget may tempt you to make promises you can’t keep, and add more to your plate than you can handle. Before you say yes to a request from a big client, take a close look at your current schedule and decide whether or not you have time to complete the job. Don’t forget to consider if you’re even the right person to handle the project. If not, recommend someone else who can help your client. [Read more...]

When is it Time to Break Up With a Client?

I think we’re better off as friends.

It’s not you, it’s me.

The timing isn’t right.

We’ve all either heard or used those excuses during a breakup in our personal life.

Breaking up is hard to do, especially when it comes to clients. But when a client has been with you from the start and your services are worth more than you’re charging, what do you do? Consider the following three options. [Read more...]

Build Client Trust by Keeping Personal Info to Yourself

Last week while I was getting a haircut, my stylist started gossiping about one of her clients. She didn’t know that her client was a friend of mine. The first chance I could get, I changed the subject. I was also careful not to share any personal information, as I knew she would share it with others.

I gossip less than I used to (it was my New Year’s resolution), but no matter what, I never gossip about clients. That topic is off limits. There are a few things to keep in mind when you work with clients. [Read more...]

Look for New Ways to Work With Old Clients

One of my clients, a business consultant, has worked with the same clients for years. She helps a client solve a problem, the client’s business grows, and then she finds other ways to help that client again. She knows that if her clients are happy, they’ll refer her to new clients…and they do.

When your business is thriving, you may not be worrying about getting more clients. On the other hand, if you’re waiting for the phone to ring, hoping that prospects will fill out your “get more info” form, and you have more bills to pay than clients to cover them, you’re probably thinking about ways to find more clients.

You can go after new clients, which can cost time and money, or you can find new ways to serve old clients. Studies show that it’s less expensive to service an existing client than to market to a prospect.  Consider these tips before you spend more time and money trying to find new clients.

  • Anticipate your clients’ needs. You don’t have to be psychic (although it wouldn’t hurt) to gauge your clients’ thoughts and concerns. Some people use intuition while others use a more direct approach: they simply ask their clients for other ways they can help them. If you ask the same question rephrased differently each time — try not to be annoying — you should get the information you’re missing.
  • Be a resource to your clients. If a client asks you to do something that’s outside your area of expertise, recommend someone else. Your client will appreciate your willingness to help and when they need your help again, you should be the first person they call. Make sure you recommend someone reliable, because if they drop the ball, it reflects poorly on you.
  • Create new products or services based on your clients’ needs. For years I’ve heard from clients who have moved from one part of the country to the other, but still want to work with me individually. Some weren’t able to fly me to their home offices, so I had to refer them to a colleague in their city. The light bulb finally went off and I started offering consultations via Skype. At first I didn’t think the virtual consultations would work, but they do, and have become a large chunk of my business.

Before you give up on a client who hasn’t contacted you lately, ask yourself it there are any other services you can offer them. They’ll enjoy hearing from you, you’ll enjoy reconnecting with them, and the bottom line: you’ll be able to help them again.

How have you found new ways to help old clients?

Contracts Can Make Everything Clearer

In my last corporate job before I started my first business, I represented cartoonists and negotiated licensing deals for them. The first mistake I made was that I didn’t have an employment contract.

The second mistake was that I trusted my boss to have my best interests in mind. He didn’t.

For every deal I negotiated, I was supposed to earn 15% of the final price of the contract. When my boss realized how much money I was going to make on my first deal, he changed the rules and paid me a percentage of the amount the company made, not a percentage of the whole deal.

I quit shortly after that.

When friends asked me why I quit, and I explained what happened, they asked me why I didn’t have a contract. Ummm…I didn’t think I needed one? Obviously, I did.

Start with the contract

The purpose of a contract is to make sure that you and your client understand what services you’re going to provide and at what cost. Otherwise, your client’s perception of what you’ve agreed to provide may be different from yours. With a contract, no one has to second guess what the deal involves and who is responsible for what. When you create a standard contract that you can use for most clients, consider having an attorney review it.

Create a relationship built on trust

It’s important to build rapport with your clients and offer to help them as much as possible, yet you need to set limitations. When a client asks you to perform duties not included in your contract, let them know ahead of time that they’ll be billed for the extra time. No one likes surprises, especially when they involve money. Your clients will receive the services they request and you’ll be compensated for your time.

Keep the lines of communication open

Stay in touch with your client throughout the project. It’s up to you to let them know the status of the project, so make sure you know whether they want you to call them or communicate via e-mail.

Fulfill your commitment

Work to fulfill all of the terms of the contract and to meet the agreed upon deadline. Don’t assume anything. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the project, contact your client.

A contract doesn’t ensure that everything will run smoothly, but it’s a good start.

Have you ever had a problem with a contract or the lack of a contract? Please share your comments below.