Hey You! See that business swimming away?
When small fish feel vulnerable and insignificant, swimming away from sharks makes sense. Why stick around and be dessert when the deep blue sea has an array of friendlier fish to swim with?
If you represent a large, well known firm and are soliciting business from sole practitioners or small businesses, you’ll need to work hard to earn and keep their business because size does matter.
The chemistry at your first meeting may be a bit off when their operation is considerably smaller than yours. You’ll need to put them at ease, and become the great equalizer with a presentation and follow up that proves how invested you are in their prosperity.
Even the biggest fish in the big blue marketing sea can’t afford to scare off business. It’s no fun swimming out there alone, and losing revenue too. Here are five ways to keep the little fish, your small scale clients, satisfied and accounted for.
- Don’t bite! When meeting small business prospects for the first time, establish eye contact early but avoid edgy passive aggressive moves like repeatedly emphasizing how large a market share your firm enjoys, or how great your track record is. Chances are, your prospect knows (or has heard) plenty about you and your business already. Instead, make a point to show how much you’ve learned about them. Personalize your appeal with a custom presentation and avoid canned scripts you might deliver to a larger audience.
- Listen, reach out, and give back. Let the customer talk. Then use friendly gestures like a hand shake, please and thank-you, or maybe a little gift if you know their tastes. Avoid over -zealous bribes in favor of suitable tokens of your appreciation that match whatever stage in the relationship you’re in. It could be as simple as a can of macadamia nuts if you know they love Hawaiian culture. Swim next to rather than in front of or behind little fish to build camaraderie.
- Make promises and keep them. Offer only what you know you can produce and be proactive about it. Do as you say. Every time. Little firms may read your slip ups as an indication that you don’t need or care about their account. Or worse, that you’re a liar. Show small businesses how swiftly you can solve big problems. You’ll build trust and they’ll feel stronger with the support.
- Offer outstanding customer support. Be efficient in spite of your size. Show clients how to navigate your company’s customer service and billing departments. Know the staff assigned to every order and monitor the communication. Protect your client’s interests so they don’t get frustrated and go elsewhere to get their needs met.
- Be honest, ethical, and available. Keep customers informed with any news or updates that could impact their pricing, contract or expectations. Deliver difficult messages personally without unnecessary delays. Your take charge approach will garner their respect and they’ll be less likely to switch loyalties.
Walt Disney once said, “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.” Guppies can give birth every 30 days, with up to 50 babies hatched at once! They are constantly reproducing. Similarly, small businesses often become bigger businesses with bigger budgets and an extended network of entrepreneurial friends. They’ll need more of what you’re selling, and will be happy to refer others your way.
Treat your smaller clients like the big fish they really are. Every client is important, but small firms have special needs when you represent a much larger organization. Personalize your appeal, listen intently, keep your promises, and always remain honest, ethical, and available.
Use your size and staff to support rather than scare off the little guys. Help them grow their businesses and yours will too. Then, it’s a win-win swim for both of you!
When was the last time you made a client feel important? Leave a comment below and let us know.