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Small Businesses Owner's Guide to Growing Your Renewals in 2007

Aug 17, 2007
It's that time of year again. No, we're not just talking about turkey, long lines at the mall and overnight visits with the in laws. It's time for small business to look ahead at 2007 sales projections. In this article, we'll focus specifically on earning new business from your existing clients.

Large corporations have the advantage of months of planning, teams of accountants, sales directors and marketers, not to mention years, or even decades of history on which to base renewal and growth projections.

But for small business, the scenario is probably a little different. It's likely just you and a handful of trusted employees, each of whom wear many hats. You may have just a year or two of history. You may be so busy running your business that you haven't had time for months for planning.

At the same time, you have a lot of advantages that larger businesses don't enjoy. You probably have a much more personal relationship with your clients than the CEO of a Fortune 500 company does. You also have more control over spending, especially if you don't report to a board or outside investors. Finally, you may also be able to make decisions more quickly, without having to work through specific budgets across multiple divisions.

Here are five simple things you can do now to leverage those strengths and set the groundwork for a strong 2007.

1. Get the face time now. Your clients are probably working out 2007 spending at this moment. Get in front of them now. Phone calls and emails are great, but it's hard to beat an hour in your client's office and a long lunch. This is also your opportunity to expand your network. Ask to meet your main contact's manager and direct reports. Your contact may move on in 2007 and you don't want your contract to leave with him.

2. Present a show of Force. Every small business owner worries about a larger competitor stealing her business. If your clients think of you as a one person show, it's time to change that perception. Use terms "we" and "us" when referring to your business. Use your company name in presentations and bring your employees or contractors to meetings. Larger companies are going to sell against you by trying to positioning you as a small business with limited resources. Counter that by positioning yourself as nimble, close to your client's business and with the resources to deliver.

3. Drive the Numbers Home. Focus on real measurable results. How did you help your client in 2006? Did you help drive new revenue? Did you improve efficiency? Did you provide a high quality product or service at a reasonable price? Don't just make those statements, show the hard numbers.

4. Create Word of Mouth. Ask for referrals. Ask if your client knows other that can use your service. Provide a stack of business cards for your clients to pass on. Give a pad of sticky notes with your name and number on them as a holiday gift. By their very nature, sticky notes get passed along.

5. Ask for the business. You've earned the right to be at the table by delivering real results and great customer service. Now ask for more. Come prepared with what you can deliver in 2007, at what cost and what the ROI will be. Your client is probably working on a budget now, so get your proposal and ideas in the mix.

Now is the time to lay the groundwork for a great 2007. As a small business owner, you have natural strengths and advantages. Work with those strengths and set the stage for your ongoing growth and success.
About the Author
Laura Watkins is a contributing business writer for Goliath. Goliath is one of the Internet's largest collections of business research, news and information.
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