Monday, March 8, 2010

Qualifying referrals first leads to client relationships that last

Showcasing experienced entrepreneurs offers an added marketing communications or social media element to help promote their businesses. In addition, it provides a forum through which they can share solutions to unique business challenges that might be the answer to a similar challenge with which yet another entrepreneur is struggling. This openness of information flows with the following story offered by

Sue Kramer Harrawood, Owner
Peace of Mind Virtual Assistance

Since 2003, Peace of Mind Virtual Assistance has been providing clients - typically small business owners - with a network of highly skilled entrepreneurial veteran virtual professionals. Our clients outsource a myriad of items to us - bookkeeping, social media, events, speaker items (shopping carts, web updates, logistics, etc.), overall executive management and much more. Due to the Internet we are able to serve clients across the country saving them time which equates to dollars and peace of mind. We allow them to focus on what they love and are best skilled to do. As a 100 percent referral-based company our referrals come quite simply from those who know, like and trust us. The criteria for business owners to be considered a prospect are these: established business, enjoyable to work with, have the highest integrity, leader (business and community), possess and live traditional values, transparent communicator, committed to building long-term relationships, and “get” what we do and that we sincerely desire to help grow their businesses.

Not long ago, I had a lesson learned which profoundly changed how I see myself as a business owner and how I operate my business. It also changed how I perceive other professionals. Due to our service nature and support mindset, we occasionally bypass our in-place processes and take on new clients who need help quickly. As a result, I’ve learned my largest business lesson to date.

By letting my supportive nature supersede my processes at times, I realized a few things. My company cannot help everyone and there are those folks out there who are not who they portray themselves to be. As much of a “duh” moment as that may sound, due to the high caliber of clients we’ve had over the years, I forgot that not everyone portrays themselves honestly. My caution to other entrepreneurs is to screen, screen, and screen some more. Regardless of who refers a prospect to you, don’t assume that because they’re in a hurry to start working with, you should also be in a hurry to work with them. Do not circumvent your process for anyone. Go with your gut and if you pray, do so. Take time to find out if the potential client is a good fit. If you do bring them on continue to listen to your gut and to God. If something seems odd, it probably is – move on. I learned the hard way and am eager to save my fellow entrepreneurs from learning the hard lesson of taking on the wrong client, as well.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sue,
    This is a great reminder during a time when creatives are most likely to accept risky business. I'd like to add this to your advice that has saved me mega-hours and mega-dollars: evalutate how the prospect has treated previous creatives. We each want to be heroes and think we are the answer to a prosect's prayers and that we can do what our predecessors could not. Get past your ego and realize that how the prospect treated your predecessor is most likely the way they will treat you. If the client has a revolving-door of writers or designers, for example, you are likely to join the ranks swirling around in the doorway! Listen carefully. Dig. It is best to assume that you are destined for the same experience, which is the only way to avoid it! I hope this helps, Liane,