An important step to developing more business . . .
Surprisingly, I find many business people neglect to one of the greatest resources for increasing business … referrals. Start with your current clients. Often they are your best source for new business. Let them know you grow your business largely by referrals and reward them for each new client they refer to you. Small rewards such as free services, a gift certificate, or premiums cost far less than advertising in a newspaper or The Yellow Pages.
Referrals are also a two-way relationship. Team up with clients who also provide outstanding service and refer your family and friends to them. You not only provide your family and friends with a valuable resource, you are also strengthening your relationship with your client. In that situation, it becomes a win-win situation for your friends and family, your client, and yourself.
Giving presentations are an excellent way to market yourself, the service or product you provide. And apart from travel expenses, all it costs to give a presentation is a few hours of your time.
If you are nervous about giving presentations or just simply find it uncomfortable speaking before a large or small group of people, check out a local chapter of Toastmaster’s International. They are a wonderful group that can help you gain public speaking confidence.
You don’t need to use multimedia equipment to give presentations and you shouldn’t feel intimidated if you are unfamiliar with developing PowerPoint presentations. You can still create slides with simple bullet points using any word processor and print them on acetate sheets that can be used on overhead projectors. They work just as well as PowerPoint slides; in fact, they are more reliable to use.
Some tips for giving successful presentations include:
Provide hand-outs of your presentation with space on each slide for note-taking. I would recommend using a ring binder with a cover sheet. The ring binder serves as a reminder to attendees that you’re a resource for them to look up when they need you.
A few weeks before the presentation date, send out a press release to area publications.
Bring a fish bowl for collecting business cards; you could offer to raffle away a door prize, or better yet, purchase a small quantity of premiums. Pens, key chains and magnets with your business cards work well because they’re useful to most people and they’ll have your name and phone number handy. They don’t cost a lot. Include a survey in your presentation handout. After the presentation, ask the audience to fill it out and give it back to you. Surveys help you identify what topics you might have missed talking about. Although surveys are meant to be anonymous, you can always provide a space that asks if a person wishes to be contacted by phone, or would like to receive more information by mail or e-mail.
Ask the Coach
Question: I’m a sole proprietor and have been for three years. Business is great and the potential for increasing revenue even more is there. But with so little time — I’m already spreading myself thin — how I can I expand?
Coach: Sounds like you need to start considering bringing in help. While the thought of hiring, supervising and being responsible for an employee may sound overwhelming and expensive at first, it need not be. You can start by hiring part-time help or even subcontracting some of the work you think you can delegate to someone else. Examples are bookkeeping, answering service, and clerical help.
If it’s developing sales that you’re after, you can consider working with independent sales people. These folks are great at selling just about anything and you can simply pay them a commission. That relieves you of the payroll headaches.
Remember, earlier we talked about referrals? Find out which of your clients can refer one of these service providers to you. This eliminates having to hire or retain someone blindly.
Keep in mind however, that when subcontracting any work that involves, say $100 or more, put it in writing. Larger amounts should be put in a legally binding contract. Your attorney will be able to guide you in that aspect.
This column is written by Ellen Cahill, Certified Comprehensive Coach. Ellen's high level of coaching skills, her ability to deeply listen, and connect with her clients, helps move them forward in the quest to reach their full potential. Learn about Ellen's coaching programs at PathwaysToSuccessCoaching.com.