The Professional's Dilemma
Part Two of a Three Part Series
by Rosanne Beers
The professional’s dilemma is how to bill the number of hours you need to bill and keep new business flowing through the door. Success requires a vision to pull you forward, good time management skills, and a plan that suits your style. In part one of this series we looked at several ways to maintain your focus.
This month we’re going to look at how a strategic plan can help you develop and maintain the business relationships you most want. An effective plan provides the focus and structure to keep you on track.
Last month I suggested that you develop a specialty and a profile of your ideal client. Your specialty and your ideal client will define your market.
The next step is to select a mix of marketing activities that support who you are. If your plan is too far outside your comfort zone, you won’t execute it. A marketing plan can only deliver the goods, if you follow it. Think about your personality, interests, talents, and preferred activities.
- Do you prefer to interact with people one-on-one or in groups?
- Would you rather communicate orally or in writing?
- Are you dynamic or quiet?
- What are your time constraints?
Choose your strategy with care and it will support who you are. Not only are you more likely to execute your plan, you will be able to execute it with style. When you execute a plan with style, you attract business. When you target your ideal client, you attract who you most enjoy.
When most people think of developing business, they think of new clients. The most cost effective way to develop business is to cross sell additional services to existing clients. One caveat: do not let any client represent a higher percentage of business than you can afford to lose. Most businesses would do well to have no more than 10% of their business coming from one source.
Develop a customer care program to keep all your clients satisfied. Make it simple and effective. Consider the following:
- a thank you following your first meeting;
- a follow up phone call or email in two weeks;
- then on alternate months phone to touch base, or mail an article or something else to benefit each client.
- Once every three months schedule a phone conference with each client to discuss how you can improve your services to them.
Schedule your next follow up each time you call or write. Use contact management software, i.e., ACT to assist you in making this task effortless.
To manage your time effectively, you will want to devise other structures that support you. Strategies, systems, and routines for laser like communications, interruptions, mail, time sensitive communications, and emergencies are basic.
Here are some guidelines that my clients find useful: Automate first, delegate second. Set aside specific time for phone calls and schedule them as much as possible. Train your clients. They will thank you for it. Quickly dispose of mail you have no intention of following up on, and collect mail that doesn’t need immediate attention to be processed in bulk once a week. Become aware of your needs. Anticipate other people’s needs and developing situations. Set policies, then define for yourself and
others what is important enough to override your policies. Become more assertive in your dealings with others. Be respectful of others. Model the way you want to be treated.
The more structures you put in place, the more focus and support you will gain. It is important to maintain some flexibility for time sensitive communications and emergencies, but you will be amazed at how much more you get done with good routines and systems, and sound strategies.
You are probably beginning to see just how interconnected focus, structure, and support really are. Part three will focus on how to develop and expand your personal support community.
©1998 by Rosanne Beers. All rights reserved.
Rosanne Beers specializes in working with professionals in sole and group practices, who want to grow their practices and manage themselves better. She also specializes in working with professionals who are dissatisfied with their profession to see if making some changes will make a difference, or if a career transition is in order.
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