When you’re a service-based business owner, your clients are buying your skills or expertise. If you are a one-person show, your success or failure is your responsibility.

I’m not the first person to mention these strategies and I probably won’t be the last, but after 6 years in business – they have made a positive impact on my business success.

1. Create value with anticipation.

When potential clients reach out to you, they’ve already done some research into you and your business. They may have viewed your profile online, checked out your reviews and they feel like you are the best fit for their needs.  If they are suddenly told they need to wait to see you, the anticipation grows. They want to work with you even more. They may make changes to their schedule to find the time to meet with you or perhaps establish a contingency plan to manage the wait time.

I’m not suggesting you make everyone wait, however, when you are at capacity, create a waiting list. Capture the new enquiry, and create a contingency plan for your own business when an opening appears.

Mounting anticipation brings out the competitive nature in people. The longer they wait, the more they fear missing out. The more they worry about not getting what has been longed for, the more likely they are to invest greater and greater amounts of money to get that special thing.

2. Don’t devalue your service.

Never ever discount your fee to win a client. It may sound like a good quick strategy to win a client or project, and get money in the bank, but inevitably it will leave you working harder for less!

Your rate is a carefully consider figure, taking into account several financial aspects of your business. Ideally, you should know how many packages, hours or widgets you need to sell to achieve your income target. This means if you offer a lower rate you will need to sell more to achieve the same income level.

Also consider that by discounting your service, you are also lowering the perceived value of your business!

Stick to your guns on your rates! If you are too expensive for the potential client, let them find someone more in their price range.

3. Accept payment in advance.

Cashflow is key to the success of all businesses, payments in advance will keep your business stay on top of your cashflow.

When you complete work without payment, you are wasting twice the amount of time. Firstly, you waste time by providing the agreed project. Then you lose more time chasing the payment! Don’t get caught taking time away from your clients who are paying for your service to chase the ones who don’t value your business.

By accepting payment in advance, you are removing the risk of not being paid for your service and you can confidently provide the service knowing you have been paid.

4. Follow up

Failure to follow up can quickly lead to lost opportunities.

If a potential contact reaches out to you to enquire about your business and what it has to offer you must capture the enquiry. After you’ve responded to the initial enquiry – perhaps consider scheduling a meeting or sending some information, it is important to follow up.

Following up will lead to closure of the enquiry, resulting in a new partnership or a lost deal

In the instance where the contact is not planning to engage with your service, this can be a great opportunity to gain valuable feedback as to why.

Alternatively, the contact may have been too busy to respond but is keen to start a partnership. When you follow up, you reconnect, continue the conversation and the opportunity to convert the enquiry to a sale.

5. Build relationships

We’ve all heard the stats on how many contact points it takes to convert an enquiry to a sale. (Salesforce quote between 6-8 contacts). That is why the most important aspect of any service-based business is to build a relationship with potential clients and referrers.

People buy from those they know, like and trust. Becoming a person who is known, liked and trusted does not happen overnight. It takes time to build your trusted reputation. Your must always conduct yourself with integrity and respect. Listen to your network, what do they need help with.

Think about ways you can help your connections. Consider how you can share; blog posts and freebies are just a few popular ideas. You may also make valuable introductions that are beneficial to our network.

Your aim should be to give and expect nothing in return.

Related | Why Knowledge Sharing is Important

6. Provide a quality service

A huge number of enquiries are pointless if you can’t deliver on the expectations on the client.

Listen carefully to the needs of your client, evaluate if you are the best fit to meet these needs then communicate clearly with them on the outcomes you will provide. Clear communication is the key to good partnerships and relationships.

As the old adage states “Under promise and over deliver”. If you do anything other than follow this principal, you risk disappointing your client. This in turn means your client may remain or return to purchase again. They may well become part of you detractors. A detractor will damage your reputation.

Provide your best work and keep your clients informed, this will ensure your reputation as a sought after service provider grows along with your client base.

7. Move on Tyre Kickers

Not all enquiries turn into clients. Take the time to set some basic criteria to help weed out the contacts who are just “looking around”.

This point is a clear education piece, and some valuable business connections may debate your selection process. From my experience, the better educated your potential clients are with your business the greater the chance they will become a valued client of your business.

Your public education may include publishing your rates on your website or defining the services you offer or industries your work with. It may also include establishing a clear criteria to identify potential partnerships. A set of benchmarks that must be met before any partnership discussion takes place.

It is also important to clarify with your referral network the type of referrals you are looking for.  Their referral reflects their reputation as much as your own. Help them be more deliberate with their opportunity to build their reputation.

Now that I have shared my strategies for success with you, it’s over to you. Don’t over think things. As a service provider, your success is in partnership with your personality.  Do the best you can in your style and use these tips as a guide to support your growth.

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by Sam Spence – Owner & Principal Executive Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.

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