Rainmaking- What will you do differently in 2018?

We’ve all heard variations of the quote attributed to Albert Einstein that “insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.  Yet, oftentimes we find ourselves doing just that. And it takes someone to remind us occasionally to make some calculated changes (in our lives, in our work) that may lead to something better.  I admit that I’m largely a creature of habit as well. But I also know that when I’ve opened myself up to trying something new, it’s usually a good thing!

So, what does that have to do with Rainmaking and building your business?  If you’re in a service related business and have to generate revenue for your firm, you know that having a steady pipeline of potential projects and referral sources is a great way to systematically grow your business.  And sometimes, just tweaking a few things in your plan and carrying them out throughout the year can pay big dividends.  Here are some suggestions for some changes you might implement in the next year to see some bigger results.

Make a written plan.  I know; you’re thinking that’s almost too simple.  Yet, many people don’t do it.  It’s said that people who write down their plans are 9 times as likely to achieve the goals they set out to achieve.  That’s quite a difference.  Draft the plan with measurable milestones and goals.  Don’t be afraid to set stretch goals.  But also be realistic.  If the plan is too crazy and you can’t possibly achieve the goals, you’ll get discouraged.

Review your plan frequently.  Even people who write down a plan and have good intentions about following it often don’t review it during the year.  If you wait until the end of the year to be accountable to yourself (or others) about your progress toward the goal, you will likely find yourself surprised – and not in the good way!  I recommend to review your plan at least monthly.  If you’ve set measurable goals, you should be able to break them down into monthly (and even weekly) goals.  As you review them monthly, you can celebrate successes, evaluate areas for improvement, and adjust the goals as needed.

Take on one new marketing outreach tool.  Have you been thinking about adding blogging to your repertoire?  Make this the year.  And don’t feel like you have to immediately blog once a week.  Start with once per month.  (Experts will recommend that you do it at least once per week, but if that is too daunting, you can do less.)  What about freshening up your website?  Or revamping your e-newsletter?  How about your social media presence?  When was the last time you updated your Linked-In profile or posted an article to that site?  Make sure to add your new endeavor to your plan and then take steps toward getting started.

Consider a mastermind group or a coach.  Whether through a formal or informal setting, there is strength in numbers.  Particularly if you are a small business owner or entrepreneur, sometimes it’s lonely at the top and it’s difficult to know where to go for advice or idea sharing.  A coach or trusted network can often help you get out of your own way.  When we get stuck, it’s often because we fail to delegate, or get overwhelmed with client work.  Then the pipeline building, networking and future revenue generating activities cease.  It becomes a cycle that’s difficult to break.  A coach or peer group is often able to objectively help you take a look in the mirror and get you going in the right direction again.

Invest in education.  This could come in many forms.  You might consider attending some sales training classes.  Or reading a few business books about referral strategies or closing the deal.  It might include attending a conference or even taking yourself on a retreat that includes some training and some relaxation.  The truth is that we all are continuing to learn as technologies speed up around us. It’s important to remember that sometimes we need to work on our businesses rather than just in them!

And finally, don’t forget to celebrate the accomplishments along the way.  Start by giving yourself kudos for finishing up 2017 (even if you might still have a little way to go in the next month to reach those goals).  And then periodically celebrate your victories throughout the year.  Treat yourself to that nice bottle of wine, or a dinner date with your spouse or significant other.  Buy those fabulous designer shoes (or their equivalent for you) when you hit that Q1 revenue goal you set, particularly if it was a stretch goal!  Make it fun.  With a clear vision, purpose and a great attitude, you can set yourself up to achieve whatever you’re striving for.  We’ll see you in 2018!

Rainmaking – Evaluating the Rain Annually!

Here comes the rain again…turning your plan into revenues in 2018!

I’m looking out my window and it’s raining.  Seems like as good a time as any to begin a blog about Rainmaking!  Particularly as the end of the year is quickly approaching and many of us are thinking about a few things related to Rainmaking.   Can you relate to any of these?

  • Here it is, almost the end of the year, and you didn’t hit your revenue numbers! Well, that’s not a fun one to start with, but in the spirit of always keeping ourselves accountable, it’s a good time to ask where it went off track.  Was your number unrealistic from the beginning?  Did you get off to a slower start than you wanted to, and now you can’t make it up anymore in these last few weeks of the year?  Were there things that happened beyond your control that kept you from achieving your goal?  It’s generally a combination of those things.  But one of the biggest reasons for not reaching the sales or revenue goal is taking our eye off the numbers, and relatedly, not keeping accountable monthly. Every year, I like to set my goals for next year right about this time of year, and then also set mini goals for next year – by each quarter and even each month, so we’re ready to go by January 1.  And during the year, I’m constantly evaluating them. So, I’m excited to say that I DID hit my numbers this year. In fact, we achieved the 2017 revenue goal today with a signed engagement letter from our newest client.  How do I know?  I have a spreadsheet that counted down from my 2017 revenue goals, and essentially filled up the proverbial thermometer with every new client.  Today’s engagement letter put us over the top – thermometer full!

 

  • 2017 was a good year – it’s ready to plan for 2018! You already know I met my 2017 revenue goal, and now 2018 is a blank slate.  If you follow my blogs, you know I’m a big believer in setting goals, and even stretch goals. Next year’s growth goals are already taking shape in my head. The next step is to put them on paper and see if they still seem realistic, and if so to set an actionable plan to achieve them.  Establish your “wish list” number for revenue and then determine how to get there. Set your sights high, but be realistic.  Ask yourself if you’ll need additional resources to help you reach the goal.  That could come in the form of new employees or by engaging some third party resources.  It could come from finally hiring that outside sales person. Also, while you’re planning your top line growth, don’t forget to look at the expense side of your ledger as well.  Are there costs you incurred in 2017 that you don’t need to incur in 2018?  OR, are there some areas where you need to allocate a few additional costs.  (Yup – keep reading!)

 

  • How can you do more with the resources you already have? Have you been wanting to add blogging to your repertoire because you think it’ll make you more visible in the marketplace, but consistently over the years haven’t found the time to do it?  Is it finally time to refresh your website or maybe overhaul it completely?  Is it time to add video?  These are all examples of indirect strategies that I’ve blogged about before.  They are ways to enhance your Rainmaking, in addition to doing the direct, one-on-one relationship building.  If you feel that building your presence this way is important (and for many of us, it is!) what are you going to do differently this year to make that happen?  Are you going to promise to carve out time on Saturdays to finally write those blogs or articles?  Will you stay up late to post on social media?  I’ll just ask you – how’s that working for you?  If it is, go for it!  But if not, consider enlisting some support.  There are many people (and even some technology solutions out there) that can help with this.  I don’t write every one of my state tax blogs. I get some help.  (I do write all the Rainmaking blogs – but they are more monthly or infrequent.) Same with social media.  It’s important that we are “out there”, but there may not be enough hours in the day to get out there!  I challenge you to think differently about how you might do some of these things in the new year.

 

  • Sounds good, but it’s all a little overwhelming! Could you use some additional tips or ideas on how to put your 2018 plan together? Do you need a good way to start?  I hope you’ll join me for my year end “Jumpstart Your Rainmaking” webinar series, beginning December 7thCheck it out here. We’ll help you get started on building your plan for 2018, so you’ll be ready to go by January 1.  Prior participants have included attorneys, CPAs, realtors, and small business owners, among others. And we’ve helped to launch some pretty good plans and then help people stay accountable throughout the year.

I’d love the opportunity to assist you as you set your goals.  To find out more, contact us at info@milesconsultinggroup.com

Solar Eclipse & Rainmaking – Is there a Connection?

The “diamond ring” effect as the total eclipse ended. Courtesy of Fritz Schanz.

On August 21st, the United States witnessed its first full coast to coast solar eclipse in 99 years.  And in a few select locations across the country people were lucky enough to experience “totality”, where the moon completely blocked out the light of the sun and cast darkness for about two minutes.  I was lucky enough to find myself in Fountain Inn, South Carolina, which was in the path of totality.  It was an incredibly lucky experience!  Americans all over the country planned trips to these cities of totality – some for months or even years prior to the event.  Hotel rooms had been booked full for a long time and were fetching outrageous rates.

As it happened for me, my husband and I were just in the right place at the right time – with a lot of luck and then a little planning.   Months earlier, without any thought to the eclipse, he had planned a trip across the country to visit family in Texas, Georgia, and then South Carolina.  I joined him at the end, flying in to South Carolina and enjoying some beach time. On Monday the 21st, we needed to make our way from Charleston, SC to Atlanta to catch our flight out the next day.  When we realized that we were actually in the path of totality making that drive, we made a call to our kids in Fountain Inn.  My daughter-in-law, Mary, had been planning for this for weeks, and her step-dad, Fritz had come all the way from Texas with his large telescope. So, we dropped in to visit with them on our way to Atlanta!  On Eclipse Day.  With totality looming.

So what does any of that have to do with Rainmaking?  In my courses, I coach participants that there are many facets around Rainmaking – and that it all starts by building relationships and then putting positive mindset and intention around networking.  As I thought about my eclipse experience, it occurred to me that there are several lessons from that day that correlate with Rainmaking.

Be at the right place at the right time.

For eclipse viewing pleasure, this was really key.  Even just a few miles away, totality was not going to happen, so the geography was important.  That’s true for rainmaking too.  When we think about building relationships with people who may ultimately become clients or those who might refer us to potential clients, we want to make sure that we intentionally put ourselves in the room with the right people so that we can maximize our opportunities of meeting our perfect client.  So, it’s important to prepare and put yourself into that right room.  Sure, you can end up at a networking event haphazardly and meet some people who might ultimately become clients.  But, you’re more likely to do so if you plan ahead with intention.

Have the Right tools.

When we arrived at Mary’s house for the eclipse, they had already set up an amazing telescope in the backyard, complete with a viewing filter. She also had multiple sets of eclipse glasses, and a fabulous buffet!  The glasses were cool, but seeing the eclipse through the telescope was even better!  On the Rainmaking side of the equation, it’s also important to have the right tools to tell your story.  In addition to attending the right networking events and making good connections, it’s also important to follow up and continue building the relationship.  How? With links to your impressive website, newsletter sign up, or social media profile.  It also helps to be able to link your newly established contacts to a blog you’ve written that might be of use to them.  Make sure your marketing materials tell your story consistently to build your reputation and brand.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate! 

If you were on social media at all on August 21st, you couldn’t help but notice all kinds of posts about the eclipse.  Friends from all over the country were sharing their experiences. The event united us as a country – which was very inspiring.   A lot of Rainmaking is about communicating as well.  Again, it starts with meeting someone initially, then getting to know them better via subsequent meetings or other interactions, and finally (perhaps) exchanging some leads and referrals when the time is right.  So much of that is about the basic art of communication – whether via email, phone, or social media.  Following through with newly established connections is a key driver in making sure that relationship takes its next step forward. It’s one of the things I encourage constantly.  If you say you’ll follow up, then follow up!  Have a plan for that and stick to it.

If you missed this month’s total eclipse, you don’t have to wait too long until it comes to the United States again. On April 8, 2024, it’ll appear again, cutting across the country the other way – from Texas to Maine.  But, if you missed our latest Rainmaking webinar series in August, you only have to wait a few months until we offer it again.  No firm dates have been established yet, but we’re looking at late November or early December.  Stay tuned!   We totally look forward to seeing you there!

Rainmaking – Finding the Time & Balance

Ahhh….balance!

I had a great lunch with a colleague recently and the topic turned to Rainmaking.  She shared with me that even though she’s trying to build her business, she’s had to cut back significantly on her networking activities because she has so many other things that compete for her time.  We can all relate – right?

But it’s a delicate balance. If we do less networking, it’s difficult to meet the people who will become clients or referral sources – particularly when the business is young or in growth mode.  Having not enough time is always a problem.  So, how do we engage in the very important tasks of Rainmaking and still find balance? Here are some of my suggestions:

Prioritize

Take stock of the many things pulling at you and competing for your time. Is it existing client projects? Family? Non-profit or philanthropic areas you may be involved in (charities or your church)? Ask yourself,
“What is the most important thing for me to be doing right now to achieve the goals I’ve set for myself?”  This is where written goal setting is so important.  Some time ago, when you weren’t so crazily busy and being pulled in 100 directions, you sat down and told yourself what you really wanted to accomplish this year.  And, if you did it well, you probably carved out goals for your business and your personal life.  Now, pull out that paper and ask yourself if your goals have really changed, or if life has just come in and made it more challenging?  If building your business is a stated priority, find a way to allocate some time to that and maybe reallocate in other areas of your life.  Could your spouse help pick up the kids one extra night per week?  Can you hire a housekeeper to do some of the heavy lifting?  Can you do some of that client project from home, rather than commute several hours per day?  Sometimes it’s just a matter of thinking differently about the things that steal away the minutes of our days.

Delegate

It can be hard to delegate marketing or Rainmaking activities – particularly if you own your business and are the key person responsible for driving revenue.   Unless you can afford to hire a salesperson (and many times in start-up or growth mode we cannot), you’ll still have to do much of it yourself.  Continue reading “Rainmaking – Finding the Time & Balance”

Investing in Yourself – Time, Money & Energy

As Rainmakers, we have to make daily decisions about where to focus our energy.  If you’re in the business of just selling work (as opposed to fulfilling client projects as well), it’s relatively easy to decide.  But most of us are pulled in many directions with competing priorities.  And while we all inherently deal with these things daily, sometimes it’s good to take a deeper look at where we are spending our time, money and energy.

I’ve had a few occasions lately to think about what the investment of these three valuable commodities means in terms of my business and my life.  Here are some areas where making an investment can really pay off in building your sales pipeline:

Join and remain active in professional associations and groups

A large part of building your referral base is in networking with the right target market.  First you have to find them, of course.  But once you know who you want to building relationships with, you’ve got to get in the room with them.  Oftentimes a component of that is joining professional associations related to your field, or the field of your target audience.  For example, I’m a member of the National Association of Women Business Owners, the Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance, and ProVisors, to name a few.  I pay my annual dues to each of these organizations, and often pay additional amounts for events, dinner meetings, etc.  Payment of those dues (the financial investment) is the basic entrance fee to get in the door.  But the time spent attending events for each of those groups can add up as well.  And the level of energy we bring to the party in terms of personal commitment can make a huge difference.  Let’s say that a member pays the annual dues, attends the monthly meetings, and then enjoys the speaker presentation.  Sure, she’ll meet a few people and exchange a few business cards, and maybe even feel invested. Well, maybe!  But what if, instead, the member paid her dues, took an active role on the local board of directors or on a committee, and then came to each meeting with a goal of meeting 4 new people and scheduling lunch with 2 of them.  Not much more money.  Certainly a little more time.  But cranking up the engagement and energy a little can provide big results.  You’re no longer just a member – you’re an engaged member!

Take vacation

There you are, overlooking the ocean, basking in the sun, fruity drink in hand.  And then your cellphone rings!  Or a text message disturbs your peace and quiet.  What a drain of good energy and invested money! Continue reading “Investing in Yourself – Time, Money & Energy”

Rainmaking – Mid Year Accountability

 

It’s accountability time! Are you there yet?

It’s the first week of July – the midpoint of the year!  If you’re the kind of business owner who likes to pause and take stock of where your company is at a given time – this is a pretty good  time to do it.  In my Rainmaking courses I talk to my participants a lot about accountability.  If you don’t stop and periodically review key indicators in your firm like progress toward your sales goals for the year, the progress (and potential lagging points) of longer projects, your collection rate on receivables, and your rate per hour (or profitability of fixed fee projects, if applicable), then how will you know how to adjust in the next half of the year?  This is particularly important for those in the businesses of selling services – like accountants, attorneys, and consultants.  Your inventory is time.  Are you on track with your inventory management?

Building a sales pipeline is one of the areas that truly does require regular review – much more frequently than just at the midpoint of the year, in my opinion.  But, if you haven’t been regularly reviewing it or honestly even engaging with it, this is a good time to get re-energized.  “The year is half over?”  OR “The second half of the year is just beginning!”  So much of what we do when we lead service businesses is to find ways to motivate ourselves every day to keep up the good work.  That includes combining a positive mind-set with accountability. Continue reading “Rainmaking – Mid Year Accountability”

Rainmaking – Ready to Launch?

When you think about building your business pipeline, going to networking events, and proactively reaching out to call on clients and prospects, do you feel overwhelmed?  Not sure where to start?  Not sure how to genuinely build those relationships that will hopefully someday lead to projects or referrals?

As I work with professionals, they often tell me that the thought of building a pipeline and engaging in the activities that will ultimately lead to strengthening relationships seem daunting.  It seems particularly difficult after a typical “busy season” – like for accountants coming off of tax season.  They’ve been so buried in technical work for so many months, that it seems even harder to get back in the swing of reaching out to their contacts and heating up the pipeline for future work. Why is that?  Maybe because they are out of practice – or because they just don’t enjoy it.  That’s where I can help!  I help people formulate and launch a program to build their professional pipelines.

And speaking of “launching”, I’m also excited to officially launch my new website dedicated to helping people learn how to build their pipelines and “Jumpstart Your Rainmaking”!  While I’ve already been actively engaged in this part of my business for the past couple years, seeing the newly branded website makes me even more excited to share my rainmaking experiences with my readers.

So, who can benefit from Jumpstart Your Rainmaking?  Continue reading “Rainmaking – Ready to Launch?”

Consider Your Pricing

Here’s an example of how tricky amnesty programs can be.

A few weeks ago, I posted here about putting my Jumpstart Your Rainmaking program on sale.  It was Black Friday and I wanted to participate!  (Of course, most of the time, we think of “on sale” as pertaining to tangible goods.)  How many of us who sell professional services would ever think to put them “on sale”?  It’s not something I had ever considered before.  But let’s imagine it for a minute…how the billboard ads might read….

Multi-state sales tax consulting services…”Call to sign up for a multi-state nexus review in the next 24 hours, and I’ll cut my fees by 25%”

IT support: “For December only, we’ll give you all the support for half the price!”

Realtor: “Today only – Offer on your house? We’ll cut the commission by 15%”

Not likely. Right? So, I’m not advocating that we’d ever really be in the business of putting our services “on sale”.

Continue reading “Consider Your Pricing”

Making the Sales Process Easier

Creating a sales pipeline can be fun! And easier than you may think.

My business contacts and blog readers have heard from me quite a bit lately because I’m actively promoting my quarterly webinar series – Jumpstart Your Rainmaking.  I’ve been sending out email blasts, writing more blogs about Rainmaking, and telling everyone I know about this.  Why?  Because I’d like to fill the virtual conference room.  As you know from reading my blogs, even though I’ve been building my business for years, the Rainmaking training part of my business is relatively new.  The multi-state part is over 15 years old.  And I’m trying to draw some attention to the new.

There’s a section in my Rainmaking training where I discuss sales mindset, and why sometimes it’s difficult to get into the sales mindset. That’s because cold-selling can be hard.  And honestly, selling the Rainmaking training has been harder than I thought too.  It’s different than selling multistate tax services. So, I thought it would be a good discussion.

Continue reading “Making the Sales Process Easier”

It’s On Sale

Sale - the word of the white letters hanging on the ropes on a red background
Rainmaking – Black Friday Sale!

Happy Day After Thanksgiving to you and yours! This blog is posting on Black Friday.  Why do I have time to write a blog today?  Because I’m NOT one of the 137 million Americans who will begin their Christmas shopping – either in stores or online this weekend.  Yes, wholly 40% of Americans shop this weekend. But it’s not a tradition that I partake in.  For all of you that DO – you’ll certainly be in good company.  Enjoy and charge safely out there!

But the thought of Black Friday got me thinking about the concept of offering special deals in general.  Should service providers like CPAs, attorneys and other professionals ever offer specials?  I’m in the process of offering one right now.  Not in my multistate business, but on the Rainmaking side of the house.  And I’m still trying to decide if it’s a good idea.
Continue reading “It’s On Sale”