Time and Strategic Partners

Last time I wrote about the time spent on Networking and Referral Marketing. I want to return to our Sole Proprietor Attorney and see how this applies to him or her.

The first and most obvious is that Lawyer’s sell their time. So, if they are going to spend time on these efforts they need to budget their time accordingly. The right thing to do is to get an estimate of the number of hours to be spent with Clients and possibly in Court (depending on the type of law practiced). This should provide an hourly rate and a number of hours to be billed. Thus, we would have our revenue. The rest of the attorney’s time can be spent on other matters, including marketing and sales.

One obvious marketing and sales function are the free consultations, whether it is 30 minutes or an hour. Again, this time should be budgeted so that not too many free hours are put into a week. On top of that, the number of consultations given versus the number of clients added needs to be tracked. This is a form of Sales Conversion and is an important metric. I have advised some attorneys to make a pre-qualification interview with a lower level employee as part of their process. It could be bypassed by a perfunctory payment, but the idea was to get a sense to the likelihood of conversion. Done correctly it could save everyone time and money.

At that point, there will be time left for whatever is required to build the personal trust to make these Referral Relationships work. How many hours per person to spend is something to think about? Another goes back to my last post: Who can give you multiple referrals? One category is customers and that will be talked about in a future post. Today I want to focus on the other category, those who sell to the same people that you do (or in this case who our attorney does). If I use myself as an example, the attorney that I could use a partnership with is an employment attorney that focuses on small business. Why? Because I work a lot on leadership, hiring, and onboarding. I help owners with personnel situations. I know the ropes, but the laws change regularly. For example, California enacted a law last year that required businesses to provide sick leave for part-time employees. Many businesses are unaware of this law even today. Many employees are uninformed as well. But a business owner could end up in hot water for not providing a plan. This includes our Sole Proprietor Attorney that might hire an Office Administrator for part of the week to schedule an appointment, perform billing and other tasks. So, it is good to have people that you know that are up for the current laws.

Depending on the type of law being practiced, that partner might be different. So, think about the kind of people that you are working near during any engagement. If you see that type of business often, then they might be a good partner.

Have a great day!
Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

Change Your Business – Change Your Life!

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Time and Networking

Networking and Referral Marketing are two keys strategies for most small businesses. Not everybody uses these strategies, but most do. Whether they are going to a Business Networking International (BNI) lead referral group or to the local Chamber of Commerce, these activities are common. There is a good reason. Referrals bring in what are relatively high quality, warm leads. The person you are going to speak to has most often agreed to talk to you explicitly. They have expressed an interest in the type of service or product that you are offering. They have an immediate or near-term need. So, close rates are high and stress is low.

The challenge is that few people look at the amount of time and energy to actually get a referral. Now there are some systems like Yelp! that can “help” with that. But generally, people only refer businesses that they have experience with or know something about. They don’t want their customer or friend to have a bad experience with the referral. So you have to build trust to be able to get quality referrals.

All of this takes time. So, you need to analyze is going to be a good partner for you to work with and why they might refer business your way. When you look at it critically, it breaks down into two categories: Prospects and Customer or People who sell to the same people you do. Those are the core groups of people who are likely to know multiple people that you are going to be trying to reach out to.

Please note the “multiple” in that sentence. You could spend an hour cold calling to get an appointment. It will take more time than that to build the kind of trust relationship that I am talking about. That means you need to expect more than one referral. If you have set up a formal customer referral plan, you can get away with just one. But even then, you would like to become a chain of referrals from that one place. It will not always be so but you need to find those places to maximize your time.

Finally, there is the need to find a real partner. Many people are happy to enter referral relationships where they receive the benefit of the referrals. The challenge is to find people that will reciprocate. Where can the two of you look like a bigger company together and foster an abundance of business? So be thoughtful about the partner and think about how you can be helping them. Not everyone will fit and that is okay. Think about who might be a good fit and talk to them. The conversation will help you know about who is interested in actually partnering. There is no point in spending time trying to cultivate a partner who is not going to be work with you.

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

Change Your Business – Change Your Life!

Visit the FocalPoint Norcal Forum – We have many tools for helping your Business!

 

 

Sonoma County: News and Notes

 

As the rain continues, I get more confident that water won’t be our challenge this year.  Staying dry on the other hand might be a problem.

I want to address two things today.  First is a bit of an update on Enphase.  They have done some things over the past month to attempt to shore up their financial position.  Before the year end, they announced an At-The-Market proposal, to allow the company to sell up to $17M worth of stock.  This was not received positively by the market.  However, last week the company announced another cash infusion from a couple of well-known Silicon Valley figures.  This is TJ Rodgers (formerly of Cypress Semiconductor) and an executive at Kleiner-Perkins (well known VC firm).  Since then, the stock is up 89%.

The investment was really good news for the company, but I think investors have gotten a bit ahead of themselves.  The pair put in a total of $10M – $5M each.  They paid a little less than $1/share for their shares.  This means by doing nothing, they have gotten a fantastic return on their investment.  Do I think they are going to dump their shares?  No.  But realize that this money is both big and not big for both of them.  Even the very wealthy think hard about multi-million dollar investments.  But in the grand scheme of their net worth, it is a small number.  We are talking about people who have Billionaire attached to them.  TJ also will take up a BoD slot and he has stepped down as CEO of Cypress, so this makes sense.  But to be clear, this will not likely have an impact on the day to day operation of the company.

I think that the $10M is going to be nice to have as you should expect another quarter of losses.  But this does not change the direction of the company on its own.  Pay attention to the next Quarterly call, which I will review here.

Finally, I want to talk about LinkedIn.  I joined that network years ago when it got started.  I have to say I am highly disappointed with many of the things that I see posted these days.  I see Vanity Shots and “Fun” posts for a site that was dedicated to professional networking.  I used to auto-accept incoming connection requests.  I may have to change that policy soon.  As a consultant, I do encourage a wide set of connections to meet different people.  What I have seen a lot of lately is people connecting to me to sell their services to me.  That is okay.  What annoys me is those people that do so without doing any research on what I do, what I might need and how their service fits with me.  So hey if you are using LinkedIn Marketing through something like Sales Navigator that’s great.  I don’t think this overcomes your responsibility to do your diligence on me as a company before you send me the “hire me for what I do” message.

Have a great day!

Jim Sackman

Focal Point Business Coaching

Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

Change Your Business – Change Your Life!

Visit the FocalPoint Norcal Forum – We have many tools for helping your Business

Time and Client Size

So, I wrote last week about Ideal Clients and how that impacts a Sole Proprietor Law Office. Now, I want to talk about Client Size. Clearly Large Clients (unless you have something special) are harder to land. They take more time because they have larger groups involved in purchasing decisions. If we take a look at Unique Value Propositions, this can be a way to shorten this time. Come up with something very targeted and then focus your efforts only on them. You will have a narrow prospect pool. If you have identified needs correctly then you will be able to fill a specific niche. So, this is really a change in time not the amount of time spent in landing a Large Client.

The impact actually comes in the addition of Account Management. Even with a Lawyer, who generally bills for any time with a client, it is probably worth considering how much free time will be required to service the client. The importance of each large client cuts both ways. The client is dependent upon your expertise but you are reliant on the large dollar value of the client. This means that maintaining trust comes at a premium. One way to do that is to build Account Management time into your plan. This is time away from the normal work to check in and build upon the relationship. By doing this, any challenges that are hidden can be brought to light. On top of that, by being regularly available the client will see that they have a partner and potentially rebuff attempts to displace you.

Now that trust counts for a lot, as much of 30% of cost of a deal. That 30% is generally what being a good embedded vendor is worth in a non-commodity business. However, to keep that client you will have to work hard for them when you are priced at a premium. Why does that switching cost exist? Well, it is pretty simple. Change takes time, effort and money. If your clients are very happy with your work they might be tempted by lower bids, but will resist them as the different employees have built the way they work around you. The deeper the relationship, the tougher it is to change.

All of this implies that you will have to budget time to manage these accounts and keep all the people that you touch happy. Not all of that time will be billable time. So, there is some financial downside to this as well as risk. On the other hand, having 50%+ of your monthly revenue coming from large, stable accounts can make your life much simpler.

This is one of the ways to build your company and a serious one to talk and think about!

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

Change Your Business – Change Your Life!

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Time and Ideal Clients

I have been extraordinarily busy this week, so this post is a couple of days late. Sorry about that.

Last week, I started talking about a Sole Proprietor Law Practice. There were lots of choices that the Attorney could make in his or her business in the way that the client base built out. So, let’s take a look at how that impacts the time management of the Attorney.

Do you want to have a few higher paying clients or lower paying ones (Big Cases versus Small Cases)? How about Repeat Business? I don’t want to talk about this for a specific type of law, but you can imagine that kind of decisions in most if not all types of practice. They lead to a simple question: How many clients do you need to make your practice a viable business? How many more do you need to make it the kind of business that you want?

The problem I run into at that point is that nobody wants to look at averages (every client is different). The differences do not really matter to me. What matters is that there is an actual average and that this can be changed by the difference in client base. You can not completely control your client base, but what you can control is how you talk to the world about what you do and why it is good for clients. Different messages resonate with different clients. By choosing who you want as a client and messaging it to the world, you will end up with more of the people that you want choosing your business.

How does this matter in terms of time? Generally, larger clients take a longer time to close but you will need fewer of them. There might be fewer possible clients that have a need for ongoing business but it is easier to retain clients than attract them. So, this is all a trade-off. The one thing you don’t want to do is build a business around large clients and attract small ones. Then you will have lots of inefficiencies as you have people seeing if you are the right person and then not buying.

Just a note here for all businesses. This is why Marketing Consultants and Business Coaches ask you to tightly identify who you are targeting. You need to be sure there are enough people in your demographic base (how many clients do you need?). By more tightly messaging and operating your business you attract ideal clients and spending less time with people who are less likely to buy from you. What most people want to do is open up that message widely. What they find is that they attract all kinds of non-buyers and thus spend their time chasing business that is not really there.

That is why knowing how you are going to build your business is so critical. It makes sure that the people that you spend time with at the front end are likely to buy.
Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

Change Your Business – Change Your Life!

Visit the FocalPoint Norcal Forum – We have many tools for helping your Business!

 

Net Neutrality Friday

As we enter 2017, there is a big change coming. We have a new FCC coming with the new Administration. There will probably be some changes coming with that new FCC. Instead of a 3 – 2 Majority for Democratic Politicians, it will be a 3 – 2 Republican majority. By the way, that should tell you something. Being an FCC Commissioner is a political position. In general, those folks are worried about being reelected or positioning themselves for their next appointment. We don’t have 5 Engineers there that make the best technical decisions. We have 5 Politicians that make political decisions. They are backed up by a Bureaucracy. That is called the FCC Staff and it is mostly lawyers. Very little technology understanding goes on there either, but at least they have no formal ties to parties or next steps up the political ladder. If it is not blatantly obvious, I am highly cynical when it comes to politicians. I have visited the FCC many times and have not come back with a great deal of respect.

The one thing that we do know is that President-Elect Trump has taken a negative view on the AT&T-Time Warner Deal. People in communications services probably forget that the FCC has jurisdiction over the broadcast industry as well. I am not sure if it will go through, be modified, or blocked by the FCC or DOJ.

What I hope we don’t see is a repeat of CAF and CAF-II. CAF stands for the Connect America Funds and was intended to help get us to Universal Broadband coverage. We have allocated Billions of dollars and essentially nothing happened. There were some networks built but in the grand scheme of things we have not seen the kind of gains on this.

I have recently run into the second push I have seen for Open Access, particularly funded by Municipalities. This time it comes from the MEF (Metro Ethernet Forum). One of the problems with Forums like this is that they try to keep going after they have won. They want this notion of services over Ethernet instead of over the Public Internet. For residential services, I think this is a failed approach equivalent to the old walled garden services of the feature phone era of cell phones. That ship has sailed and we now have completely viable OTT (Over The Top) video services on the public Internet including Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV and many others. That kind of approach is a step into the past and I think it is a bad idea. The MEF should probably just throw a victory celebration and declare itself defunct. The former CEO of Vinci Systems had an ATM concentrator company that he exited out of cleanly as ATM died. There was no bankruptcy and all the employees were laid off with severance. Now that is a clean death for an organization that has lived past its useful life. The MEF should do the same. It created standards, promoted them and got them adopted by the industry. It won and that means it is done.

So, we are probably up for another eventful year. I look forward to sharing it with you!
Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

Change Your Business – Change Your Life!

Visit the FocalPoint Norcal Forum – We have many tools for helping your Business!

 

 

Sonoma County: News and Notes

Jim Sackman Business Coaching Receives 2016 Best of Santa Rosa Award

 SANTA ROSA, Calif.Dec. 20, 2016PRLog — Award Program Honors the Achievement

December 13, 2016 — Jim Sackman Business Coaching has been selected for the 2016 Best of Santa Rosa Award in the Business Development Service category by the Santa Rosa Award Program.

Each year, the Santa Rosa Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Santa Rosa area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2016 Santa Rosa Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Santa Rosa Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About Santa Rosa Award Program

The Santa Rosa Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Santa Rosa area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Santa Rosa Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

SOURCE: Santa Rosa Award Program

Santa Rosa Award Program
Email: PublicRelations@myawardcenter.org
URL: http://local.myawardcenter.org/DefaultUb.aspx

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, MarketingChange Your Business – Change Your Life!Visit the FocalPoint Norcal Forum – We have many tools for helping your Business!