Get More Clients For Your Home-Based Business by Avoiding These Five Deadly Mistakes By Laurie Hayes
Not long ago, I put out an RFP (request for proposal) for a virtual assistant to take over technical responsibilities for my web site, shopping cart and autoresponder, so I can focus my efforts on several large projects and my private clients.
I received close to 20 offers, however, less than a handful made enough of an impact for me to request a personal interview.
Of those I chose not to pursue, it's not because they were incompetent or lacking in any way. I'm sure they are competent VA's with a great deal to offer. The problem was the way they were communicating to me ... the potential client.
You can rest assured no matter what business you're in, you will be competing with perhaps hundreds, if not, thousands of other businesses who are vying for your ideal client, and you need to separate yourself from the others by avoiding these five deadly mistakes.
1. Not understanding the prospect's needs, or worse yet, completely ignoring them!
My needs were clearly listed - web maintenance, shopping cart and autoresponder administration. One of the offers I received listed typing, transcription, scheduling appointments and making travel arrangements as the services provided.
No mention of providing the technical skills I required.
If you're submitting a quotation to provide a product or service, make sure you understand what the prospect needs, then tell that prospect how you can meet those needs.
If you merely provide a list of what you offer with no reference to what the prospect is looking for, she will think you either a) don't pay heed to what you're reading, or b) just don't care - and either one of them will put your proposal into the round file.
2. Not walking your talk.
One bid listed web maintenance and design as a service offered, however, the bidder didn't have a site of her own or offer any references or testimonials for sites she 'allegedly' maintains.
If you offer a particular service that can be verified, provide testimonials, references and samples in your original bid so the potential client can corroborate them.
People are busy and if you don't give them what they want on first contact, they aren't going to take the time to contact you for more information when five, ten or fifty other proposals are giving them what they need.
3. Vague testimonials.
One bid provided a link to a web site where I could read testimonials. The testimonials were one and two liners followed by clients' labels instead of their names, locations, or businesses.
For example, "Betty does good work. - Accountant", "Betty always has her work to me on time. - Chiropractor."
If your services are worthy of receiving testimonials, there is no reason why the providers shouldn't approve the use of their name, business and town to validate the testimonials as authentic. Adding a picture creates even greater validation.
4. Don't meet requirements, but want the business anyway.
One proposal came with a note, "I don't know how to do what you need, but I'm willing to learn."
The thought and aspiration may be there and perhaps, you can learn, but ... if you're competing with many others who are qualified and can step in and start work right away, your bid will be discarded immediately.
Find out what kinds of services others in your industry are providing that you're not. Also, find out what kind of demand is being made for those services. If you discover numerous requests being made for a particular skill, consider learning that skill and get yourself into the game.
5. Don't make it all about you.
I received two offers that demonstrated no real interest in how they could meet my needs. The first went as follows:
"I love working with coaches! I've been running my own business for "x" years. I have a degree in "x". I worked as a nurse's assistant for 'x' years, then decided to pursue my love of organizing, and I have ..." - there was no mention of skills that would meet my needs.
The second was similar ...
"Our company would like to offer you a free 1 hour consultation over the phone to tell you further information about who we are, what we do, and how we work."
...does anybody care about the prospect and what she needs?!
One of the primary rules of marketing was missed in both.
When people are considering your service or product, they're looking for help or to fill a need. The only thing on their mind is "What's in it for me?" Nothing else. Nada. Zip. So make sure your entire focus is on what you can do for them.
If you're making any one of these five deadly mistakes, take corrective action right away.
Once you've mastered the art of how to communicate with your prospects and give them what they want, they'll be beating a path to your door.
About the author: Laurie Hayes, Director of The HBB Source™ helps self-directed employees break free of their jobs to live their dream of running a home-based business. To subscribe to her FREE e-zine for valuable tips, strategies and resources to help you build your ideal business, visit The HBB Source.