Questions? Feedback? powered by Olark live chat software
Print Page  |  Contact Us  |  Your Cart  |  Sign In
The Boomer Bulletin - 2011
Blog Home All Blogs
Search all posts for:   

 

View all (44) posts »
 

Build Business by Smart Use of Technology (Part 1)

Posted By Jon Hubbard, Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Business Development is a broad field with multiple areas within it.  Depending 
on the person or organization, business development can have many definitions.  For the purpose of this article, we will define business development as the combination of your firm’s sales & marketing efforts.  Coordinating these areas of your firm is crucial to deepening relationships with current clients and developing business with new clients.  Now, more than ever, firms have access to technology and web-based services that allow you to streamline and maximize your business development areas while not draining unnecessary resources from the firm.

Why is building business through smart use of technology important to your firm?

Pre-recession, there was plenty of business to go around.  At times, firms couldn’t hire fast enough to accommodate the growing need for their services.  However, once the recession hit, clients became more price-sensitive and fee pressures intensified.  Nowadays, finding new clients and growing the firm is more difficult.  At the same time, how business is developed has evolved since pre-recession. Every day, new technology services are being launched that help professional services firms better engage with prospects and clients while becoming more cost effective.  How firm’s filter through all of the possibilities and leverage technology to build business is becoming key to the success of firms.

In this two-part series, we will focus on leveraging technology in 8 areas of business development:
  1. Client Referrals & Testimonials
  2. Branding & Design
  3. Social Media
  4. Customer Relationship Management
  5. Online Payments
  6. Website Builders
  7. Project Management
  8. Email Marketing
For the purposes of this article (Part 1), we will focus on the first 3 areas.

Client Referrals & Testimonials

Who are your firms’ best sales people?  Your clients!  Think of your clients as an extension of your sales & marketing team.  The relationships they have with their colleagues and peers are opportunities for your firm to grow your client base.  The most important thing to remember when developing your client referral plan is that you must ask for the referral.  It is great when one of your "raving fan” clients brings you a new customer, however, we shouldn’t rely on them to do so.  Calling clients and meeting up with them at conferences is still an effective method for asking for referrals.  However, there is a web-based service that helps facilitate asking for referrals and tracking the results.

A great tool for increasing client referrals is Net Promoter.  According to NetPromoter.com, "NetPromoter is both a loyalty metric and a discipline for using customer feedback to fuel profitable growth in your business.” NetPromoter is more than a customer satisfaction program it is also an operating model from which you can follow to begin increasing customer satisfaction thus increasing client referrals.

Net Promoter
www.netpromoter.com

Another great way to leverage your "raving fan” clients is to use inexpensive video technologies to capture client testimonials and post them on your website and social networks. This can be achieved by either recording the testimonial in person at a conference or an event that both of you are attending. Or, you can use Skype and a video recording plug-in to record the testimonial from the comfort of your desks.

Skype
www.skype.com

Skype is a software application that allows users to make voice and video calls over the Internet.  Calls to other users within the Skype service are free, while calls to both traditional landline telephones and mobile phones can be made for a nominal fee using a debit-based user account system. 

Vodburner
www.vodburner.com

A Skype video recorder which creates complete video productions directly from Skype calls.  You can record video and audio and edit the videos for your needs.

Branding & Design

Branding and design can be the most intimidating and resource draining areas of business development.  Projects such as these have a tendency become delayed and over budget.  Branding and design effects lead generation and is vitally important to the image of the firm so this area can’t be ignored.  No longer do firms need to employee a full-time graphic designer or pay a premium for a contracted graphic designer.  With advances in technology, accessing the "crowd” has never been easier and is perfect for getting branding and design work done in a timely and cost-effective manner.  This method is known as "crowdsourcing”.

"Crowdsourcing” is commonly defined as "the act of taking tasks traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing them to a group of people or community, through an "open call” to a large group of people (a crowd) asking for contributions.”  There are a number of "crowdsourcing” platforms with a specific focus on graphic design.  Once you submit your project, not only will you be able to view multiple design entries, the built-in process will ensure your projects stay within budget and on-time.

The "crowdsourcing” platforms below are all very similar, however, pricing is different.  Each platform has a built-in process that will guide your firm through each stage ensuring you end up with exactly what you are looking for or your money back.

Crowdspring
www.crowdspring.com

Crowdspring lets you decide how much your project will cost.  However, depending on the project, they charge a listing ranging from $200 - $600 plus a 15% commission.  Crowdspring works best for design and writing projects.  You will be able to choose the best design or writing from 100+ entries.  The more you pay, the more options you will receive.

99Designs
www.99designs.com

Depending on the type of project, 99Designs will charge you a listing fee ranging from $95 - $495.  99Designs will then take a percentage of that and pay the winning designer the rest.  99Designs works best for design projects such as graphics, logos, business cards and stationary. 

Elance
www.elance.com

ELance is slightly different than Crowdspring and 99Designs.  There is no listing fee.  With Elance, you are able to post your project and designers from around the world will bid on the project letting you know how much/little they are willing to complete the project for.    Elance works best for larger projects that need a dedicated designer, developer, program, writer, etc.  You will work with them from the beginning to the end.

Social Media

Although social media has been around for years, too much focus has been given to marketing and not enough focus on how to leverage it for sales.  With the improvements in social media over the last couple years, the idea of cold-calling is dead.  By using the tools available on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, all of your "cold calls” can become "warm calls”.

LinkedIn
www.linkedin.com

Think of LinkedIn as a rolodex on steroids.  LinkedIn is all web-based and self-managed by those who have profiles.  You are able to view someone’s current position, work history, education, bio and connections.  This is a gold-mine for any sales team that is looking to build relationships with new prospects.

Say you’re interested in contacting Jones & Company, LLC about your firm’s new service.  Just log into LinkedIn and search for employees of Jones & Company, LLC.  Review their profiles and find some commonality you have with them; whether it’s education, experience, or the same professional contact.  Using LinkedIn’s "introduction feature”, you can request that one of your connections introduce you to the employee at Jones & Company, LLC.  An introduction through LinkedIn is much warmer than a cold call or email.  Plus, the context of LinkedIn is all about professional contacts so no one should be caught off-guard when you are requesting to be introduced.

A new tool that will help you see your LinkedIn connections, how they are grouped, and how they are connected is called "InMaps”.  This is great for seeing how all your connections are related and can help when searching for commonalities with prospects.

Twitter

On Twitter, you can directly message those that are following you. This is a great tactic for requesting to schedule that phone call or to touch base at an upcoming conference.  So what do you do if you want to send someone a message that isn’t following you? That’s where the "@reply” comes into play.  Reply to someone’s tweet and it will be sent to their email.  It’s an easy way to start a dialog and is less obtrusive than a cold email or call.

Facebook

Creating a local business or company page for your firm is a great way increase interaction with your clients and prospects. You are able to post updates, photos, questions, videos, links and more to help strengthen the relationship with those that "Like” your firm on Facebook.  To create a page for your firm, visit the "Create a Page” page on Facebook. 

Conclusion

There is no shortage of web-based technologies to improve your firm’s business development efforts.  I would recommend focusing on one tactic at a time.  This will increase your success with implementing improvements and will create a "flywheel” effect of success.  In next month’s Boomer Bulletin, I will discuss the remaining 5 areas of business development.

This post has not been tagged.

Share |
Permalink | Comments (0)
 
Community Search
Sign In


Forgot your password?

Recent Blog Posts