Will I regret writing here that most things are going relatively smoothly? The last couple of weeks have not been easy, but it feels like we’ve finally cleared this bottleneck and things are returning to more normal levels of chaotic.
Since the start of 2017, we have launched 6 client websites and there are another 2-4 that could see completion by the end of next week. The pace of things has been simply crazy.
Above that, I’ve been trying to keep working ON the business as they say, instead of just IN it. Late last year, I traded a website and a license for our software product with a research company that a friend of mine had invested in. They do what’s called “win-loss” analysis: they interview your clients and they tell you where you’re succeeding and failing with client interactions, what their buying factors were, and why you got the job in the first place. Understanding your buyers and what they value is, of course, intelligence that you can use to adjust your sales process to make sure you win more of them. They interviewed five of my clients and I got the results of the study back a few days ago.
Key learnings: we do a lot of things really well and we get more kudos for our design than I would have assumed. I mean, I know we’re good, but I had no idea folks were THAT happy 🙂 Our pricing is possibly a bit low. Most of the folks we interviewed said that we were low-to-average on price in comparison to the other folks they interviewed. And we need to be more proactive on project management and keeping people informed.
This is a tough one, because every year around this time, it seems, we break out a new communication strategy.
One year it was weekly emails, but people said they get too many emails and our stuff got lost so we got discouraged and gave up. One year it was a weekly scheduled 15 minute call with all active clients, but people never showed up so we got discouraged and gave up. One year, we rolled out a project management portal but clients refused to use it, they wanted to email instead so we got discouraged and gave up. Last year, we decided that — scheduled or not — we were going to call every active client once a week. If we got them on the phone, we’d chat, otherwise we’d leave a voicemail. No one called us back, and very seldom were the the voicemails listened to, so we got discouraged and gave up.
This year we’re back to emails, and the format is simple, a bullet list of:
- What we did last week
- What we intend to do this week
- Any outstanding questions/needs/deliverables required from the client.
We’re also making it known that anyone who wants a 15 minute weekly call is welcome to have one (provided that they can make the commitment to either show up or cancel in advance).
I don’t know if we’re going to be successful at it, but I’ve decided that the biggest goal for this initiative at this point is simply to not get discouraged. It’s probably better to do something and not get recognized or appreciated for it than to be accused of not doing it at all.
I also met last week a business consulting firm I know who does sales training. My hope is that, holistically, my group will get better at not only contributing to new sales (I’m the workhorse in that department) but also at identifying and closing opportunities to upsell additional services on top of the primary engagement.
As it turns out, sales training is expensive. But these guys are also interested in training, they had us on a short list of firms to do their online marketing for months. So we will see what happens there and how that whole thing sorts out.
In the meantime, I’m enjoying a quiet afternoon where I am neither stressed nor particularly uncomfortable with the state of things.