PROFIT = Improved Communication + Constructive Feedback

 What will you do differently or better this year, than you did last financial year?

Can you invest the time to look at each of your clients and ask five key questions for the coming financial year?

*  What worked this year?

* What could we have done better?

* What are we not doing yet, that our client is constantly asking for?

* Is there a way we can refer business to this client?

* How easy can I make giving and receiving referrals?

 This exercise is not meant to plunge you into depression – in fact, hopefully you will be giving yourself recognition for work well done. And identifying some possible 1% improvement areas – those little things you can do, that may make a big difference. You might think of this as a simple 1% improvement system – with a potentially 20% plus big impact.

 Here is an example: some time ago, a course attendee told me about regularly buying products on-line from the one supplier, who made her purchases look like gifts with gift wrapping. Great idea I thought – and from that day on, we started tying brightly colored ribbons around the books we sold on-line and with larger purchases, used colored gift boxes. Additional cost per purchase – less than fifty cents with individual books and up to four dollars with a gift box – for purchases usually well over $100. Impact – huge! We regularly receive phone calls and emails saying “thanks for my present!”

 We need to review our systems regularly because when it all boils down – how different are your products from your competitors? Yours might have a few more bells and whistles – but at the end of the day are your prospects able to really see the differences. Or are the differences, not so much in the product, but in the relationship that you build with those prospects, clients and ultimately your advocates – those silent sales people, who do your selling for you.

 In this competitive, time poor marketplace word of mouth marketing is still the cheapest and the best way to grow your marketplace and most of the time it is invisible and sometimes hard to track. Recently I was part of a discussion group about web designs, technology possibilities and web content. I admitted to being the “outsource queen” when it comes to technology. I regularly receive compliments on my websites:www.networkingtowin.com.au

And I am always ready to pass those compliments on to my web master www.thenet.com.au. One of the group challenged me and asked if my web master Peter Thorpe was in fact better than ABC – another web guru. “He is better for me, because he understands my needs, speaks in language I can understand and gets things done without fuss or delay. And he is always open to new ideas that I might see around the place. Plus he keeps up to date with new technology innovations and more importantly what will work best for my marketplace.” Having built a relationship over 20 years with this web master, I am certainly not in a rush to change.

 At the end of this meeting, I was asked for Peter’s contact details by two people and another person asked for the other “guru’s” details. And this is really one of the keys to business development, is the business relationship working well? Do you have good communication skills with your supplier and do you regularly ask the question, “is there anything we are not doing that you would like us to do?” And if you do stuff up, can you fix it as quickly as possible? If you are not asking for constructive feedback, it is unlikely you will receive it. People are just too busy to complain (unless you have really stuffed up) – but they do tell their networks.  So let’s aim for:

  • A 1% improvement every time we supply our product or service.
  • Asking our clients to describe their ideal prospect and then doing our best to connect them. Sometimes the easiest way to do that is through inviting a small group of people to attend a business-networking event – a mix of clients, prospects and connectors.
  • Aiming for a monthly “networking table” at your local business network is a great discipline for you and a guarantee that you will improve your communication skills with selected clients.
  • Listening more and speaking less. Engage your clients in conversations, but let them to all the talking – you will be surprised what you hear about your competitors, potential clients and services.

 Finally remember to regularly give yourself recognition. With the what worked – and congratulating yourself on that! What didn’t, what will I do differently next year – you are bound to have a successful year!                Happy Networking

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