- How to Sell to Market Research Buyers, Part 3
- How to Sell to Market Research Buyers, Part 2
- How to Sell to Market Research Buyers, Part 1
- 5½ [behind-the-scenes] Marketing & Sales Activities You Need To Do in December
- Got something to say?
- Running a small firm? Who holds you accountable?
- Marketing & Sales Success Begins with a Simple Step… Thinking!
- Your Sales Forecast Doesn’t Have to be a Guessing Game!
- Lead generation is a 3-step process.
- Measuring Sales… it’s Not just about Revenue
- 7 Selling Behaviors Seller-Doers Must Employ to be Successful.
- Can you really be “all things to all people?”
- 12 Marketing & Sales Activities you Gotta STOP this Year!
- How to maximize the impact of your marketing investment.
- Revenue Growth? Try the ‘5% Challenge’… it’s Brilliant!
- Should you ever walk away from revenue?
- Get Ready for 2017 with these 6 Marketing & Sales Activities
- 20 Marketing and Sales Concepts Business Leaders Need to Know, Part 2
- 20 Marketing and Sales Concepts Business Leaders Need to Know, Part 1
- 10 Guidelines for How to Be Successful at Sales
- Strategy Before Tactics!
- 6 Marketing & Sales Lessons Learned in our First 4 Years in Business
- The Sales Presentation: Stop Reading the PowerPoint Slides and Tell Your Story
- Content Marketing not working? Eh, don’t worry about it!
- Marketing Measurement: 3 New Methods You Have to Try in 2016
- The One Thing You Must Include in Your 2016 Marketing & Sales Plan
- Not using LinkedIn? Are you kidding me?!
- Is it OK to fire a client?
- Take Charge of Your Own Success… Stop Relying on Others!
- Getting first-time clients to take a chance on you.
- 9 Ways to Build your Business During the Summer Slowdown
- The Top 10 Ways to Build Awareness
- The 13 Most Common Website Mistakes
- The Most Important Part of Exhibiting
- Content marketing isn’t a one-time thing… it’s an all-the-time thing.
- THINKING! A framework for creating better business plans in 2015.
- Not happy with your marketing & sales? Then make just one change in 2015!
- For Beginners: Should I Tweet Daily? Yes… and here’s how.
- Got your Marketing Plan for 2015? No?! Now’s a good time to start…
- How to Connect with Booth Visitors – An Exhibitor’s Worksheet
- Not getting the email results you want? Make sure you’re following these 7 email marketing guidelines.
- 10 Ways to Get Clients to Sell FOR You (and they won’t cost a dime!)
- Do you know where you’re going? Why Strategy should drive your marketing & sales.
- 11 execution tips to help you exceed client expectations
- How to Turn First-time Clients into Repeat Clients
- 15 easy, low-cost marketing and sales tactics for 2014 – Part 2
- 15 easy, low-cost marketing and sales tactics for 2014 – Part 1
- 13 Lessons for Researchers Who Don’t Want (or Like) to Sell
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- It’s not that complicated! A common sense approach to the marketing & sales process.
- How MR firms are blowing it with new customers: Lessons learned while secret shopping
- Management or sales… you can’t serve two masters.
- Prove it! Nine ways to convince prospects to work with you for the first time.
- Five everyday ways to grow your business
- How that ‘one great client’ could doom your firm
- Six marketing and sales mistakes MR firms make every day
- Eight proven ways to build awareness – and why you should!
- Suspects, Prospects and Clients: Is your firm focused on the right target?
- A Checklist for Conducting Your Own Marketing & Sales Audit
- Learning to play the game: What football can teach us about marketing
- Differentiating your firm in a crowded marketplace
- 25 low- or no-cost ways to grow your business
- 15 Reasons E-mail Still Matters in Sales and Marketing
- Come prepared, dress the part and follow up: 10 dos for exhibiting at MR trade shows
- No rookies, no gum and no Frisbees: 10 don’ts for exhibiting at MR trade shows
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- Marketing 101: It takes Work to make it Work
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- Integrate the 4 As of Marketing into Your Planning
- Size Does Matter: 4 Approaches to Growing Your Business
- The 12 Guiding Principles of Marketing (part 2)
- The 12 Guiding Principles of Marketing (part 1)
How that ‘one great client’ could doom your firm
When I was a kid just out of college (a long time ago) working as a sales rep for the DuPont Company, I used to believe that I couldn’t be successful until I got what I needed from others.
- “I’ll be better at sales when I get better brochures from corporate.”
- “Business will pick up once engineering improves these products I’m selling.”
- “Once I get through the training program, my results will improve.”
But once you mature a bit and get a little real-world experience under your belt, you realize that success is your responsibility entirely. You succeed or fail because of what you do or don’t do. Simple – and true! If you buy into this concept – and most successful professionals will – then why do we continue to ignore it when it comes to running our businesses?
‘We rely on’
Every time I kick off a relationship with a potential client, I ask them to tell me what they’re doing about marketing now. In virtually every case, the answers start with “We rely on . . .”
- We rely on word-of-mouth from our satisfied clients.
- We rely on referrals to generate sales leads.
- We rely on one or two big clients to bring in most of our revenue.
- We rely on the great relationships with key contacts.
- We rely on repeat clients.
Two huge concerns
Please know that none of those concepts is inherently bad. Word-of-mouth is great. Referrals are terrific. Big clients and repeat clients are necessary. Strong relationships are critical for success. But there are two huge concerns with these strategies: 1) because others are involved, at some point, they will come to an end; and 2) because you’re succeeding with them right now, other marketing and sales efforts are being ignored.
I was in Boston recently working with a client. As we looked over the client list, we noticed how many clients had been lost over the past few years – good clients, really good clients. So we dug a little deeper and found that in several cases, their one key contact left the firm and with them went the relationship with that firm and all of the business. Since their relationship with that one person was so strong, they never bothered to get to know others in the firm and ended up paying the price. Unfortunately, this happens all the time.
I have another client in New York that gets nearly half of its business from one CPG company. It’s been a very good, very long-term, very profitable relationship. But that CPG company is starting to experience significant financial issues and starting cutbacks and layoffs. And guess which department is at the top of that list? My client is now scared to death about what will happen to its business with that client – and subsequently, to its business overall. Again, because things were so good for so long, the client coasted, never putting in place the things required to grow in case that one big client ever went away.
Here’s the bottom line: The key individuals that you work with will resign, get fired, retire, relocate, leave the industry and die. And if you’re relying on a handful of those kind of contacts for your success, the question isn’t if you will face challenging financial times, it’s only a matter of when.
Invest in marketing and sales
How do you fix it? First, take advantage of the success you’re experiencing now to invest in marketing and sales to:
- build awareness in the markets you serve;
- position your firm for the buyers you want to influence;
- put in place efforts that generate a constant flow of fresh sales leads; and
- develop processes for following up with and nurturing those leads.
Second, set a goal to get to know at least five contacts at every large client you have. How? Ask your primary contact for internal referrals. Schedule a lunch-and-learn. Spend time on their Web sites. Use LinkedIn to connect. Set up Google Alerts to keep an eye on happenings at those companies. Do whatever it takes.
Relying on only one entity
In general, commit to an ongoing business development effort to ensure that
should when your one big client goes away or the referrals slow down or your key contact retires, the impact is dramatically lessened. Do that and you’ll be relying on only one entity to be successful: your own firm.
Good luck and good marketing.
This article was originally published in Quirk’s.