Today, we were hired by our 30th client since January 2011. They include not-for-profits, universities, financial institutions, small businesses, government partners, and professional consultants. And they all have one thing in common: they’re buyin’ whatever we’re sellin’.
So, how the heck did we convince 30 different organizations to buy it and buy-in? So far, our success can be attributed to six things we do that, in our opinion, most people don’t do enough of.
- We do what we say we’re going to do. We don’t pitch concepts we don’t understand, ideas we can’t deliver or solutions our clients can’t afford. We meet deadlines, respect budgets and show up for meetings. We try to be as practical and realistic as we can, to the point that it can be a buzz kill. We ask questions, give honest answers and aren’t afraid to admit our limitations. We take accountability for both the mistakes and magic we make.
- We rarely take shortcuts. We think in isolation a lot — asking ourselves what is the best thing to do, for this person, in this situation, right now. We aren’t afraid to give a different answer every time. We click File -> New a lot, and Edit -> Copy -> Paste a little. That’s one part nature — we’d be bored stiff if we weren’t challenging ourselves or creating anything new — and one part strategy. We believe our profitability and productivity is tied to raising our game and not lower our clients’. And so far, we’re right.
- We know our place. We know people are hiring us to be genuinely interested in them, offer honest opinions and thoughtful advice, be respectful and empathetic, and give our talent, ideas and attention generously. Why? Because that’s what everybody wants. To be cared about and cared for. To be heard and listened to. The plans we produce and documents we deliver are outputs; they’re not services. We service our clients by becoming people they can trust. It’s our job to alleviate worries, not become one.
- We consciously work on our business and ourselves. We kick-off every week with a discussion of priorities, deadlines and action items. We wrap every month by talking about what we learned, excelled at and struggled with, and what we’d each like to achieve next month. We start every quarter by discussing what opportunities and growth we’d like to pursue — personal and professional — and how certain situations, challenges and projects are making us feel. Sound high maintenance? It is. We take not sucking very, very seriously.
- We stay organized. We use customized worksheets to keep track of meetings we need to prepare for and things we need to do to keep clients happy, grow our business and contribute to our community. We populate our calendars with all the things we need to do each day. When a week is full, we start pushing whatever we can to the next one. We write project lists, goals and reminders down, in big letters and bright colours, then hang them on our wall. We bring a notebook, pen and intention to every meeting.
- We believe in our worth. It’s not an opinion we need to force on others and actually, it’s something we rarely talk about at all. We are aware of our strengths and how to apply them. We trust that we can add value to situations our clients put us in. We understand that people skills, empathy and an open mind can go a long way. Red Balloon is a reflection of who we are, and our approach has merit simply because it’s uniquely ours. We don’t spent time seeking validation for it; we spend time trying to share and celebrate it.
These six things have taken Red Balloon from a one-person, few-client, five-figure business to a multi-person, 30-client, six-figure business in less than two years.
Sure, our charm, energy, references, experience, and testimonials probably don’t hurt. But avoiding networking events, having a sucky Google ranking, an inconsistent blogging schedule, and a general disdain for RFPs probably do. In the end, they may even cancel each other out…who knows for sure.
What we do know is that consistently, predictably doing these six things delivers the most important sales pitch of all. It tells our clients they can count on us.