Rant #4 What’s with all these expenses?

As you know from reading out last couple of blog posts we’re listing all of our prospect rants – what brings them to us initially.  Today’s is all about expenses and unfortunately most business owners don’t take into account the expenses associated with business development which ultimately leads to a much higher budget item then originally planned.  Keep reading to get a greater understanding of the full budget challenges:

 

Rant #4 – what’s with all these expenses?

 

What’s with all this expense reimbursement?  So Business Development is not just salary, commission, benefits and taxes…it’s also expense reimbursement and you should plan for a minimum of $30,000 if you hire someone full time.  Here’s what we typically see:

  • Mileage – at or near the IRS reimbursement rate, you should expect 800-1500 miles on average per month
  • Memberships – some groups are $35 a year while others are $30,000, you’ll need to determine a budget and which groups fit your target profile
  • Event fees – typically range from $30-400, including fees for appropriate trade shows which could be upwards of $2500
  • Phone reimbursement – typically capped at a monthly number or fully paid for by the company and may be company equipment
  • Parking and tolls
  • Taking clients/prospects/partners out to breakfast/lunch/dinner/drinks

 

When I was employed in a BD role years ago, my monthly expenses averaged $1200-2000 and that didn’t include the memberships…this was also over 5 years ago.  If you decide to hire full time you should plan for expenses and budget, be sure to discuss this budget with your BD staff.  I’ve had corporate credit cards and I’ve had to deliver expense reports biweekly.  For those that travel outside of the region you should expect flights, trains, rental cars, hotels, per diem as well.  This would also be the case if you need to attend a conference out of the area.

I’ve found that most BD outsourcing firms cover their expenses in house with the exception of out of the area travel which is typically only if requested and approved by the client ahead of time.  So typically if you use an outsourcing firm for business development its one flat rate monthly plus commissions.  We have seen some outsourced firms bill for expenses so if you’re in conversations it’s important that you know what you will and will not be responsible for and for how long.

 

Prospect Rant #3 – Cheap Labor

Continuation of the Bob London of London, Ink “Customer Rant”  posts, see previous posts for more information.

 

Rant #3  I should be able to hire someone for $30k right?  If they’re really good they’ll make it up in commissions

Here’s the issue, the good ones know their value and $30k is an insult.  You are essentially asking someone with 15+ years of experience with amazing connections that they are essentially going to drop in your lap, someone with a strategic mindset who can build and manage long term relationships and make you look like a genius to accept the equivalent of $15 per hour.  Here’s what $30k will get you – $30k will get you someone extremely junior who requires a lot of training and mentoring – aka no commissions coming in any time soon.  I’m certainly not saying this is a bad idea – for some it’s a perfect fit – you want to look for a real go getter, someone with a lot of energy but just know they will require a lot of time and energy on your part for training and eventually will leave you at some point for more money.  My friend Andy Miller of Big Swift Kick just loves when prospects ask him to work on a success fee only structure.  His answer is simply perfect, he says “sure, I’d love to.  We’ll just have to make sure the contract is buttoned up and I’ll need 3 references of people who have worked on a success fee with you before where you’ve actually written the big check”.  Look this isn’t our first rodeo, we’ve all been asked to do this before and we’ve all said yes and we’ve all been screwed.  There are a couple of issues at play here:

  • We don’t necessarily have access to all your systems so we have to trust that the numbers we see in the end are correct and you actually have to abide by your word and write the check
  • There’s a difference between an increase in sales revenue and an increase in profit.  If you add to the expenses at the same time sales are increasing your profit may actually shrink and it wouldn’t be the first time someone has tried to hold us accountable to their inability to manage expenses.
  • You need to give us free reign and most CEO’s aren’t willing to let us control all aspects of their sales environment including terminating those who may be a hindrance.
  • More so than any of the others, you aren’t taking this seriously.  The CEO who is serious about growing their business understands investment.

 

 

Business Tips: “Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative”

It’s easy to get caught up in a pit of negativity, especially when free time dwindles and schedules become busier than rush-hour traffic. We complain about the service at fast food joints if it’s not turbocharged, dwell on interactions gone awry, and get angry when we “can’t even get 3G” on our phones in areas with weak reception. That’s why when I came across Neil Pasricha’s blog, 1000 Awesome Things, I was refreshed to find someone paying tribute to the little things: “The smell of rain on a hot sidewalk,” “Perfect parallel-parking on the first try,” and “Tossing garbage in the trash can from far away.”

Pasricha’s blog isn’t a prescriptive list of methods for garnering happiness, but simply a reminder of the things that make us happy. There are a number of books that offer a more direct approach to bringing positivity to our lives, though, like the one I recommended this month in the leadership group for small business owners that I’m a part of: A Happy Pocket Full of Money, which instructs readers on how to bring abundance to their lives by giving and forming favorable relationships and through applying newfound discoveries in theoretical physics.

I was introduced to this work while reading Bob Doyle’s Follow Your Passion, which similarly explores the concept of the Law of Attraction. Though it’s a difficult and sometimes dense read, once you make it through the first chapter on quantum physics you’ll gain a greater understanding of certain universal laws, why they work, and more importantly – why they don’t.  I found that business picked up tremendously within weeks of starting the book.  I turned a few others onto it, too, who ended up having the same success in their businesses as I was having.  Deals assumed to be dead finally closed, opportunities seemed to show up out of nowhere, clients signed on the dotted line, and revenue increased.

Without deeply analyzing the principles of quantum physics and the Law of Attraction, one underlying concept that became clear to me in reading these works is this: negativity is the ultimate blockade to progress. Regardless of where the negativity stems from, if it’s bogging down any conversation surrounding your business, relationships, finances, and so forth, it’s pretty much proven to have a negative effect. I’d like to propose that we all act a little more like Neil Pasricha, and begin appreciating all the awesome happenings in our lives: we need to focus on the good.

Whether the country votes Democratic or Republican in the upcoming presidential election is as of yet to be determined, but what is apparent is that our economy is teetering on another recession. Many economists are predicting a less than stellar upcoming year – perhaps one that’s worse than the 2008-2009 calendar year.

As you are working on your goals and business plan for 2013, ask yourself: what can you do better? What can you can give to others? Those who hoard are rarely recipients of good opportunities from others. Appreciate your clients, your staff, your opportunities, your partners, yourself.  Give to others – make introductions, give referrals – even give your competition opportunities that just aren’t the right fit for you. You’ll be amazed at what comes back to you.  Give for the sake of giving and without expectation.  Think of it like Christmas: it feels good to see the smile on someone’s face when you give him or her a gift.  That feeling could exist year-round and it could be just what your business needs during a troubled economy to thrive – so long as your make an effort to give.

 

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Why Labeling Clients is Bad for Business

“Once you label me you negate me.” – Soren Kierkegaard

We are a culture obsessed with labels – from the ones displayed on our designer jeans to the titles we use in the workplace to distinguish higher-ups from entry-level employees. Categorizing people, places, and objects is a way of simplifying our lives, of easily defining who is who and compartmentalizing them in our minds.

But labels are also risky – they make us inclined to expect certain behavior from certain people, which can cause us to project negative attitudes onto them. I see this happening a lot in the world of business. Oftentimes, business and sales people might judge their clients before much interaction has even taken place. It’s not something I’m proud to admit happens in the sector, but it’s a reality, and labels like “annoying,” “needy,” and “high-maintenance” might get tossed around as descriptors for clients with specific needs.

Usually, I find that applying such labels has a guarantee of making them come true – they are self-fulfilling prophecies, so to speak. If you dread dealing with a client because you regard them as any of the aforementioned problematic labels, then it makes sense that they are going to seem annoying, needy, and high-maintenance. This, I think, is what Kierkegaard was getting at in his famous quote – assigning a label has a way of automatically nullifying who an individual is beyond the classification. That is to say that all other distinctive aspects of a person fade away so that the label takes precedence.

Needless to say, this only makes doing business more difficult, which is why I’d like to propose a challenge: leave the labels behind. Rather than ascribing strict designating terms to people, think of your prospects more generally: as an opportunity to help someone. I guarantee it’ll make your interactions with clients more pleasant, and your attitude about working with them much more positive.

At Springboard, our sales team is committed to letting go of labels, and our resulting positive approach to sales makes our business development successful, expanding your company with our outsourced services.

Follow Springboard on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn as well!

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Networking Meaningfully with LinkedIn

Here at Springboard, we’re committed to doing what it takes to expand your company faster than a balloon on a helium tank, and our team of experienced business development professionals can help make that possible. Though our sales experts are multi-faceted in their approaches to helping you garner new clientele, we recognize that one very effective platform for business expansion is social media.

Whether or not you’ve committed yourself and your company to keeping up with the technological times in terms of establishing a social media presence, there are some important factors to consider about online networking. Join us as we take a closer look at one such site – LinkedIn – and evaluate the ways in which it can be beneficial to your professional life.

LinkedIn’s website declares that its mission is “to help you be more effective in your daily work and open doors to opportunities using the professional relationships you already have.”

Some of our clients feel a little personally overwhelmed by social media platforms like LinkedIn, weary of the amount of time it will cost to manage them effectively. With LinkedIn in particular, people have a tendency to take their professional networking too far, connecting with as many people in their industry or a related one as possible – even those that live thousands of miles away who they’ll probably never meet in person, nor strike up significant business relationships with.

If you choose to build a personal or company profile on LinkedIn, be sure to connect meaningfully: that is, show some discretion. Don’t connect just for the sake of expanding your numbers, but do so with intentionality. When you reach out to someone online, take a moment to send him a personal note, letting him know why you’d like to connect. Did you meet him at an in-person networking event? Say so. Did your colleague refer you to her as a valuable consultant for advice? Let her know. The few minutes that you designate to do this will make you memorable, and will leave a favorable impression of you in your new connection’s mind.

Below are a few of our favorite reasons to sign up for LinkedIn today and get active. It allows you to:

  • Stay in touch with a large number of people
  • Conduct industry-related research
  • Share pertinent information that showcases your value
  • Create new connections

So go ahead, take our advice here at Springboard and spring into action on those social media networking sites – just be sure to do so meaningfully!

If you have any questions about Using LinkedIn to Expand your Business, please contact Springboard Business Development by calling 410-832-7560 or click here today!

Located in Baltimore, Maryland, Springboard offers outsourced sales solutions for businesses in the professional services arena. Our approach to business development makes it easy to find new clients without the financial burden of an in-house business developer.

At Springboard we know sales!

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