You’ve heard the expression, “The customer’s always right”, right? Are they though? In this blog post I’d like you to look at the opposite side of that coin and ask yourself this question: “As a brand, are you a customer who’s worthy of this advantage?” I’m a service provider and I’ve worked with my share of clients who don’t fit the bill:
The inability to verbalize their needs but ability to criticize when you don’t hit their fantasy mark
The oblivious attitude towards the fact that payment is based on time
The push back when their vision is questioned
In this blog post, I wanted to share my 3 Tips to Setting Your Business Up Right To Work with Vendors. As entrepreneurs, we have to be cognizant that, even though we are customers to other entrepreneurs, B2B business puts you in an equally judged roll and your reputation could be equally bruised if the working relationship goes south. Take a look at my tips….
Have an open line of communication:
Communicate your vision: This means you need a plan going in. You need to do some soul searching and research to create a vision for the project you have in mind. You should know what you don’t know and then communicate that when asked, instead of giving excuses or false answers. As a client and a brand, you are still being judged for the way you handle your business (i.e. customer service). Service professionals take note and make decisions from the experiences they have with you. Remember, they get to choose who they do business with too. On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase. That said, your vendor wants to do a good job for you. On the flip side… even though they aren’t YOUR client, misteps could cost you just as much. Instead of being a “Bad Client”, build rapport and show your loyalty. It will be reciprocated in a plethora of ways as you continue to use them.
Check your ego at the door:
When you reach out to a service provider (i.e. graphic designer, web developer, business coach, etc.), remember the reason you reached out in the first place. You think they have the expertise to help you achieve your goal. If you have a clear vision for your project and its purpose, the expert you’ve contracted will have suggestions to ensure you are able to achieve your vision. Be Clear About the Scope of Work and don’t get in your feelings when they make suggestions. Their idea could enhance the original plan. If you’ve communicated properly, the suggestions given should be relevant and consistent with your original goal. As the expert on the project, it’s entirely plausible that they will want give instruction to educate you in attempt to assist you in reaching the best, most efficient results. Take a look at this graphic. It defines a “Bad Client”. Leaving your ego at the door minimizes the odds you’ll be in this category with your vendors.
Be prepared to negotiate:
It is always a good idea to have a budget when you walk into a meeting or phone call with a potential service provider. Now having said that, I realize small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs may feel a little intimidated by the term “Budget”. The thinking is, it implies you need a lot of money. That isn’t true at all. You just need to know what you can afford, be realistic with your request and be open to negotiate. I’d venture to say, you aren’t the only one with limited resources. If you do your research and are realistic, you may find a service provider who is willing to work within the boundaries of your budget. Take a look at this article on Forbe.com. It gives negotiation tactics that could prove useful.
Over on my podcast, P.B. & Style, I had a conversation with a service provider and she was very candid about common mistakes she’s recognized when working with her clients AND helpful tips to ensure you make the best decisions when hiring vendors to help you in your business. Tonya Franklin is the owner of UpWrite Solutions, LLC. She is an expert service provider who someone who has experience helping her customers set their businesses “UPWRITE”.
Listen to Podcast—————->>>>>> HERE
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My interviewees share their goodness but I only share it in my “KITCHEN” (the list).
Success is purposeful. It’s intentional and doesn’t come easily for most, that’s why I’m writing this blog post. When it comes to building relationships, growing a network, and driving sales being intentional is one of, if not THE most important activity you can do for your business. Being intentional means setting goals, being strategic, and following up CONSISTENTLY. Let’s take a closer look at each of these and hopefully you’ll begin to develop a few intentions of your own.
SETTING GOALS: As entrepreneurs, we know what we want the end result of our labor to be. We understand (intellectually) the sacrifice and work involved in achieving the success we want, but knowing what to do and ACTUALLY doing it are two very different things. I’ve been on a weight loss and high blood sugar prevention quest for years…I know I shouldn’t eat certain things and that I should exercise, but there are times when I let my desire for an ooey gooey skillet chocolate chip cookie with vanilla ice cream get the better of me. Setting goals is a lot like this if you don’t have intention behind it. You see, it’s not enough to know what to do, it’s not enough to know how to do, you have to have a goal. Not just any goal… a S.M.A.R.T. goal. A goal that’s Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timed. This helps with accountability. It holds our feet to the fire when we start procrastinating or veering off track. When we are intentional, we set S.M.A.R.T. goals.
BEING STRATEGIC: Now that you’ve set those S.M.A.R.T goals, you can be strategic in your activities. Marketing, sales, customer services and/or anything else that produces a desired result. Think of chess. It’s not a game of chance, it’s a game of strategy. When you play, the goal is to win. You know the desired result, but there is an opponent in the way of that result. I’m not a chess player, but it only took me a second to google it and find this:
“…tactics allow you to take advantage of your opponents’ mistakes in the short term, strategy flows from your understanding of more permanent aspects of the position. Awareness of strategic elements is vital in that it allows you to evaluate a position (tell who is better off, if anyone); more importantly, it is the foundation of planning in chess.” ~ Chess.com
If you substitute a few words in this paragraph, you’ll be talking about marketing your business. Being intentional in strategic development is about putting your goals and plans into action.
FOLLOWING UP CONSISTENTLY: What good will it do you to set goals or be strategic if you drop the ball on the follow up? In this Forbes.com article, they share “How to Master The Art of Networking Follow up” so you know it’s A THING. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you the value of relationships in business. Where do you think that relationship comes from? FOLLOW UP. A piece of advice, I love, from this article is number five… “Give first. Expect nothing in return”. You’d be surprised how valuable this practice can be in your business and the credibility it builds during your follow up process.
I wanted to share this podcast with you because I’m interviewing someone I call a “MASTER NETWORKER”. She is dynamic in her approach to and follow up after networking! The beauty of this interview, however is she not only shares her expertise about networking, but she also drops some nuggets of wisdom on the subject of strategic marketing…
Now that you’re wrapping up this blog post, take a LISTEN to this fantastic interview!
Also…remember, P.B. & Style is a weekly dish of personal branding deliciousness and I’m the chef. Just like any chef worth her salt, I have my secrets. I share them over in the P.B. & Style KITCHEN (my email list). At the bottom of this blog post, after the button for the podcast, I’M INVITING YOU TO JOIN FOR “The Tea“…. All you have to do is enter your information and you will have a seat at the table for all the YUMMINESS being served by me and my guests. Sorry, you won’t find me sharing it any where else!!!
As an entrepreneur, I can attest to the fact that it takes something greater than me to push forward and grow my business. I need to dig deeper and go beyond the surface of my being and truly tap into the value I can bring to the world. My guest this week on my podcast, P.B. & Style is someone who truly brings calm to her surroundings and has the spiritual depth to pull out an encouraging word when all seems lost.
Katrina Lokko is a Magazine Editor, Television Talk Show Host, Radio Show Host, Speaker, Author and Consultant. She is also my friend. When I decided I wanted to do a podcast, I had to think about who I would want to interview and she was definitely at the top of the list. Over the years I have watched her hustle and build her business, quietly survey a room, and speak profound words to those around her.
During our time together in this interview, she dropped some serious knowledge and it would behoove you to pay close attention. She spoke of “Asset and Liabilities” in a way that evokes deep thought. She speaks of a “Fake Existence” and how we should be careful to avoid it, and if that weren’t enough, she mentions a spiritual concept she and I share that guides our paths and makes us much stronger business owners (and quite frankly, better human beings).
This podcast was truly a treat for me and I know you will find yourself having ultra clear, ultra bright light bulb moments while you listen…
Enjoy my interview with Mrs. Katrina Lokko of (her new television show): “Bold & Unique Living with Katrina Lokko”
Be sure to click the links on the podcast page. It’s where you’ll find links to Katrin’a website, television information, and the book references she mentions during our interview.
Now’s your chance to opt-in to my P.B. & Style mailing list. It’s found at the end of this blog post. Every cook has her secrets and that’s where you’ll find mine… my interviews always end with something tasty from the guest and I don’t give that stuff away anywhere else.
Remember, I’m here to serve you up sustainable deliciousness because leadership is a journey, not a destination.
Join me for our next dish…