Monday, July 30, 2007

How to Hire Some Help and Give Yourself a Raise

How to Hire Some Help and Give Yourself a Raise

by Donna Gunter, The Online Biz Resource Queen (TM)

"There's no way I can hire anyone to do what I do. No one can do it as well as I can."

Do you resemble that remark? If so, you've got much in common with most other business owners in the world. We never think that anyone else will give something the time, attention, and dedication that we will. And, you're right, to some degree. No one cares as much about your business as you do. However, if you don't choose to delegate those things that prevent you from engaging in business development, marketing, and sales activities, you won't be in business very long.

Whether you're just starting out or have been in business for awhile, the thought of bringing on a support team member can be daunting, and you wonder, "How can I bring in someone else when it's just going to increase my expenses?"

You need to make the shift to seeing this cost as an investment in your business, rather than as an expense, and let go of the need to be in control.

I recently read about a statistic quoted in the life insurance industry which stated that for every additional support team member employed in a small professional services firm, the firm experienced a 40% increase in gross revenues. Why does this increase occur? Because your support team takes work away from you, which allows you to focus on increasing revenues - either by making more sales or working on the marketing systems that will lead to more sales.

I realize this sounds overly simplistic -- if you want to increase your revenues by 40%, simply just employ someone on your support team. Of course, it is not that simple in reality. Hiring a support team requires you to trust your own judgment and use this extra time to generate more revenues. And that's the key here - if you hire a support person and keep doing what you're doing, the concept won't work.

You have to hire the person and ensure that you're taking on the role of business development.

The best way to illustrate this is to look at your "lost opportunity" costs. Say, for example, you're a marketing consultant and you charge $175 per hour. Yesterday, your ACT! database was malfunctioning and it took you 7 hours to fix the problem and do the mail merge and printing and mailing of your sales letter to the new list of 100 prospective customers that you just purchased. Do you realize that 7 hours really cost you $1225? How? Your hourly rate of $175/hour multiplied by the number of hours it took you to do this task (7) equals $1225.

What would have been more effective? Finding someone else (like a Virtual Assistant or Online Business Manager) to do this for you in half the time for a portion of your hourly fee. If you had hired the expertise of a masterfully skilled Virtual Assistant charging $45/hour, for example, my guess is that she probably could have completed the project in a portion of the time, say 4 hours, for a final cost to you of $180. Big cost savings over the $1225 it cost you to do the same project. With that project off your plate, you then have the time to go out seeking more $175/hour opportunities.

Amazing, isn't it? For a mere $180 investment, for example, you now have the time to complete the proposal to do that corporate training program you spoke about with an HR person two weeks ago. A week later, the HR person calls and tells you that they've accepted the proposal valued at $10,000 in income over the course of the year. Would you have had time to complete that proposal if you had not handed off this ACT database project? Perhaps, but I bet it would have forced you to work late into the night to complete it.

What operational aspects of your business could you delegate to someone else? If you had extra time, how could you increase the revenues of your business? Give these questions strong consideration--you may be pleasantly surprised by what you discover.

Your Get Clients Online Assignment: Take some time and write out your delegation list -- all those things that you hate doing, things that you're now doing and probably shouldn't be, as well as all the stuff that's falling through the cracks. Surprised at the length of the list? Now jot down all those money-making opportunities you've missed out on (or don't have time for) because you're too caught up in the day-to-day operations of your business. What's the dollar value of those missed opportunities? Shocking, isn't it?

Online Business Resource Queen (TM) and Online Business Coach Donna Gunter helps independent service professionals learn how to automate their businesses, leverage their expertise on the Internet, and get more clients online. To claim your FR*EE gift, TurboCharge Your Online Marketing Toolkit, visit her site at Ask Donna an Internet Marketing question at

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Make Your Networking More Productive!


  • Before attending another networking event, ask yourself, “What is my objective in attending?” Are you looking for potential clients? Business alliances? Getting your name out there? Socializing? Define your purpose & goals: “I want to add x number of new contacts to my newsletter”, “I want to find 1 new business alliance”, “I’m looking for a contact from xyz company”.
  • Who will be attending the event you’ll be attending? Attending every networking event in town leaves you little time for actual work. Maximize your time and pare down what you attend to those events where your clients will be. Are your clients Human Resources managers? Then connect with the local HR association. Are you looking for Realtors? Attend a meeting of the local Realtor association.


  • Pay attention to the use of your business card at the event you attend. Are you handing your cards out like a Vegas dealer – giving one to every person you meet then quickly moving on? Or do you engage them in conversation and only hand out a card when they ask for one? Will your card be of value to them? If not, it will just end up in the trash can and your name forgotten.
  • Ask intelligent questions to learn more about the business of a new contact. Otherwise, how will know if they are your client or if their clients could potentially be yours? What’s their target market? What’s their niche? What sets them apart from their competition?
  • Become a resource. Find out what your new contact is in the market for – both personally and for their business. Are they looking for a CPA, are they in need of marketing materials, do they need a house painter? Then introduce them to those you know and trust. By providing value to your contacts, they will see the value in you. They will remember you.


  • So what do you do after the event is over? Do you have a plan of action ready to put into place? How will you follow up with these new contacts? Call them to follow up, perhaps schedule a B2B meeting. Send a thank-you/”nice to meet you” note via e-mail or snail-mail. Add them to your newsletter list (but no spam!). If you sit around waiting for them to call you and use your product or service, it probably won’t happen. You need to initiate contact and begin developing a relationship that will lead to referrals and business down the road.
  • How are you organizing your contacts? It’s never too late to start your client database. It doesn’t have to be fancy and there are many free or inexpensive products out there – even inputting them into Outlook or an Excel spreadsheet is better than leaving them in a pile on your desk. The important thing is to enter all new names within 24 hours after the event - including notes about where you met, what you spoke about, their level of interest in your product or service. If you don’t already have a system in place, start by entering all new cards as you receive them then slowly add your previous contacts later.
  • Have email templates and voice-mail scripts ready to use when following up with your new contacts. While you’ll customize them for each person, this will save you tons of time and help keep you from procrastinating!

I know this can seem overwhelming. Start with one step at time and slowly add on the others. I know of many resources to help with each of these steps and would be happy to refer you to them for assistance – just let me know!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Art of Follow-Up

Great timing on the below article from Robert Middleton, since I'll be speaking on this very subject this Thursday at our local Chamber of Commerce!

Enjoy... Cindy

What's the most important marketing skill? You might be surprised at the answer.

It's not having a great marketing message, powerful marketing materials and a bullet-proof marketing plan. All of those are certainly important but not as important as...


In my teleclasses and talks, I joke how people are looking for a "killer marketing message" that will make people jump up and down with excitement when they hear it. Sorry, but that's as much of a myth as unicorns or a balanced national budget.

But people want to believe that myth, so they spend forever trying to perfect their message. Look, all your message can get you is some initial attention. That's all.

And virtually every single marketing action after that is follow-up.

When someone shows some interest in your services (when you deliver a decent, but not mythical, marketing message), you need to follow-up with some more information.

Once they've read that information, you need to follow-up to determine if there's a deeper interest. And if there's a deeper interest, then you need to follow-up to set up an appointment.

But it doesn't end there.

Once you have an appointment, you need to follow-up to confirm that appointment (yes, people flake out). And once you've had the appointment you need to follow-up with a proposal or to close the sale. Follow-up never ends.

Follow-Up Secrets

Here are some follow-up secrets I've learned over the years that are important to understand and master if you're going to attract more clients.

1. Know where you are in the game

When you follow-up with someone, the purpose is to move the prospect from one base in the marketing game to the next base.
If you try to jump bases (or move too fast), you tend to get rejected by the prospect. If you move too slow with your follow- up, you loose the interest you've generated up to that point.

2. Don't move too fast

When you get someone's interest (say at a networking meeting) and then say you'd like to call back to talk with them, that's fine.
But when you make that call and immediately try to set up an appointment, you'll likely get some resistance.

Remember, people want more familiarity and some information before they meet with you. So your follow-up system needs to build that in. One way to do this is with pre-written emails and links to articles or to your web sites.

3. Don't move too slow

If you give a talk and get cards from people who are interested in knowing more about your services, how soon should you follow- up? The very next day. For each day you don't follow-up, interest wanes. If you have only a few follow-ups, use the phone. If you have many, send an email to set up a time to talk in the upcoming week.

Stale follow-ups are just that. They've forgotten what interested them in the first place, so when you call back after several weeks it's like starting all over again.

4. Balance fast and slow

The key to effective follow-up is balancing the fast and the slow.
Fast to get back to someone when they show interest; slow to get to know them. Fast to provide information requested; slow to discuss what this information means to their business. Fast to get a proposal in the mail; slow to discuss the details of that proposal.

5. Watch your assumptions

What if someone doesn't get back to you? You've followed up promptly and you don't hear back right away. What does this mean? Only one answer: Who knows? It could be anything.

But we are quick to jump to the conclusion that it's bad news. Not always. They might be very busy with a big priority or could even be out on vacation. So don't jump to conclusions. Just keep following up. Just watch that you don't sound desperate!

6. When to stop following-up

Let's say you have a prospect you've either met with or done a proposal for. You thought everything was going well, but they aren't returning your calls. Do you keep leaving messages or do you give up? What I recommend is leaving one last message that goes like this:

"Hi John, I've been trying to get back to you about the project but haven't heard from you for a couple weeks. I don't want to keep pestering you, so if I don't hear back from you, I'll assume you don't want to move ahead. I'll leave the ball in your court. Please call if you want to take the next steps, but this is the last message I'll be leaving. Hope to hear from you. My number is ..."

This approach works. If they actually are interested, they'll call you back. If they don't, well there's your answer. It's time to move on.

7. Create follow-up systems

To streamline your follow-up, create systems you can use over and over again. A follow-up system consists of specific steps you take each step of the way.

It might work something like this:

a) prospect learns about your service and visits web site
b) prospect fills out form on the web requesting more information
c) prospect receives an automated email from you with web link
d) you send out personalized email requesting an appointment
e) you follow-up by email until appointment is set
f) you meet with prospect by phone
g) after phone appointment you send agreement
h) after a few days you send another email
i) after a few more days you leave a phone message
j) prospect ultimately gets back to you with a yes or no

Once your follow-up system is designed and fine-tuned, you can use it reliably to turn many prospects into clients. This is exactly how I built my business. It didn't happen by chance.

I invite you to use it to build yours.

The More Clients bottom line: The skill of follow-up is the glue that holds all of your marketing together. It's what bridges the gaps between initial connections, information, meetings and proposals. Make it a priority to master this skill as soon as possible.

By Robert Middleton of Action Plan Marketing. Please visit Robert's web site at for additional marketing articles and resources on marketing for professional service businesses.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Our First Newsletter!

Our first newsletter is published! You can view and also sign up for the newsletter at:

Take a look and let me know your feedback!