Is one big fish better than several small ones?


Michelle Coyle is President of BGSD Strategies, where she provides strategic advice to political business owners. A question about your business? Email him directly to [email protected] and she will answer it here.

Question: I wanted to hear from you on the pursuit of small clients. Some business experts say “the earnings add up,” but in our business low payers can be a headache. What do you think is the best approach to building your customer list?

A: This is one of those arguments where everyone is right – sort of. There are certainly successful business models based on providing a high volume of services at low cost. These templates can be a huge headache to start and maintain, but they also lend themselves more easily to creating a type of product that automates your service. A lot of money can flow from it.

I get the feeling you’re talking about something else though: a business model where you have big customers and take a few small ones when you’re stressed out about money or want to do someone a favor. Or maybe you bet they’ll become big customers themselves one day. This idea that we often have to wind up a bit.

In my business consulting practice, we call them “80/20 clients” – clients who pay less than 20% of the bills, but expect 80% of your attention. Ideally, you will drop anyone who meets these criteria: keeping them is definitely a drag on your growth potential.

If you’re worried about cash flow, it might be time to talk to your vehicle bank that can help iron out that so you don’t feel like you have to take clients who aren’t good for your health. your business just to get quick cash at the door. This energy that you use to serve the 80/20 customer is so many better to go out and hunt the big fish.

If you accept these types of clients as favors or because you bet they’ll become bigger clients later on, I can appreciate it. You work in politics, after all, and betting on the right horses is a key part of your business strategy. The key here is to set limits on how many of these clients your business will take up and / or what percentage of your staff time you are willing to allocate to clients like this – no more than 20% if it is. Please. Once you’ve set the boundaries, make sure you stick to them.

Question: I want some of my clients to support my social media, do you think I should compensate them somehow? Also, when is a good time to approach a client about it?

A: It’s absolutely a matter of opinion, and I’m happy to give you mine. Personally, I feel like it is outside of my integrity to pay clients for marketing approvals. However, I do pay clients – and anyone else – finder’s fees for successful referrals. My logic is that I pay for the amount of work. While I expect recommendations and referrals to come from the heart, setting up a referral involves a lot more work than rushing through a two-sentence quote, and I want to make sure that people are paid fairly for what is essentially the work of sales. me.

I also make sure to hammer home with all of my clients that if they refer an asshole to me I’m not going to sign a contract with them and that will embarrass the person who made the referral. I absolutely want to dissuade anyone who dreams of recommending someone to me just to get money.

The best time to approach a client about either of these things is right after they’ve told you how great you are and how much your work has helped them. From there it’s an easy flow to, “Hey, could you put that in writing? Or “Great, do you know anyone else that we should help the same way we helped you?” “

If you don’t get those kind of organic, personal testimonials from your customers, stop, go back and work on delivering your customer service until you get it. You want authentic and freely given endorsements, not under duress.

Question: My staff are completely remote, but we’re bringing everyone together for a team building summit later this fall. Any recommendations for breaking the ice with people who only know each other from Zoom and Slack? I worry about annoying interactions.

A: Listen, this group interaction will be like any other. There will be people who are thrilled and excited to meet in person, and others for whom this sort of thing is their worst nightmare. Assume that you won’t be able to please everyone, and realize that you can lean on excited people a bit to get the party going and keep it going.

That said, it will definitely get better if you have:

1) Food. And do your best to accommodate individual dietary restrictions. This no be the only person at the company party who can’t eat the pizza.

2) A specific activity to do. The activity could be as simple as getting everyone out to bowling or it could be more elaborate. Icebreaker games get a bad rap, but they’re classic for a reason. You should also consider pairing more serious getting to know times with leadership exercises designed to help people get to know and know each other better. And be sure to include discussion groups of those exercises that encourage vulnerability in sharing.

I would also suggest that you seriously consider hiring a professional retirement facilitator for this. Companies like mine can offer workshops specifically tailored to your business that will help your staff bond better and work better together after retirement, and it takes a huge prep load off you when your time is more usefully spent on research. other parts of the business. . It also allows you to fully immerse yourself in the retreat as a peer-level participant with your staff, which I strongly encourage you to do.

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