Small-business owners can sometimes be so focused on accomplishing individual tasks – especially in the IT industry – they forget that every once in a while they need to examine their approach to growing their business and generating sales.
TechCrunch reports on Amazon's new smartphone, which provides a good example of how innovation is as much about technology as it is about finding new ways to reach customers. Amazon's smartphone (dubbed Fire) comes with a new SDK that allows mobile developers to build apps that take advantage of one of the phone's most intriguing features: the ability to ID products.
The Fire can identify products in the real world and send you to websites or Amazon listings, immediately giving you more information and a way to purchase the product. Say a friend has a new pair of shoes you like. You can use the Fire to snap a picture of these shoes and the phone will send you to Amazon's listing for the product. You can use this feature for movies and music as well as physical goods.
There are two takeaways:
- Amazon's phone is pretty cool.
- Sometimes you've got to rethink the way you reach your customers.
Let's focus on the second takeaway and examine some ways IT contractors can grow their business.
IT Contractor Tips: How to Rethink the Way You Find Sales
These sales tips for IT contractors can boost your sales, and you can even use some of them when you rebuild client websites, mobile platforms, and other ecommerce venues. Take a look:
- Have a standard policy for upselling. As silly as it sounds, it can be easy to forget to upsell your clients. Make it standard policy to upsell your customers on related services. Offer to "throw stuff in" at a discount. Website developers can incorporate this technique on client sites by advertising related products at the point of checkout, thus helping them upsell – and probably winning some extra loyalty.
- Make it quick and easy for customers to make purchases. Ask yourself: how easy is it for clients / customers to finalize their purchase? Accepting credit cards and online payments or offering payment plans can make your services more attractive to your clients.
- Ask for referrals. If you have a good relationship with a client, consider asking if they would refer your business to any of their associates. You can even give clients a form letter (or email) that they can send to parties that might be interested in your services. You can also ask clients to write testimonials for your website or endorse you on LinkedIn.
- Stay at the front of your client's mind. Send newsletters, software update reminders, and other communiqués that will keep your business fresh on your client's mind. Of course, make sure you don't inundate them with emails and come off looking like you're spamming their business. (To see how newsletters, security alerts, and client education can also reduce your liabilities, see "Client Education: Best Ways to Invite a Data Breach.")
- Expand services to existing clients. One of the easiest ways to find new sales is to look to your old clients. Your existing clients might need more IT work done. Sending them an email about new services or offering discounts to existing customers could help you find more work.
- Bundle your services. By combining services and offering discounts for buying more, you can get clients to purchase more.
It's important to remember that not everything is a sales transaction. In fact, some people might look at Amazon's new phone and think, “gosh, that's a little creepy.” Fair point.
When you're looking to generate new sales, remember not to do so at the expense of your client relationships. Many clients are put off by IT contractors who come off sounding like a used car salesman. Don't do that. It’s all about finding the right balance.
As you grow your business, remember that your liabilities and risks also grow. If you hire additional employees or increase your revenue, you'll probably need to increase your IT insurance to cover these new risks. To help you budget your IT risk management, we've provided these insurance cost estimates for IT firms of all sizes – from independent contractors to larger tech firms.