Guest post from Emma Jones, founder of the home business website Enterprise Nation (http://www.enterprisenation.com/) and author of ‘Spare Room Start Up - how to start a business from home'.
This is a perfect time to spruce up your business development and pursue opportunities that will mean new work from existing customers and new work from new customers. Here are three things you can do to keep the contracts coming in.
More work from existing customers
Make contact - start with your existing customers by contacting them to check they are happy with your service and products. Offer to conduct a review of their requirements and ask if there is anything more you can be doing for them. Do they expect their needs to change over the next six months and are there new ideas you can take to them that will mean an improved service for them and new business for you? You can find out all this - and more - through scheduled catch-up calls with your most long-standing customers.
Refer a Friend - develop a promotion that invites customers to refer their friends and family to you. Can you offer a discount or incentive to make this happen?
New work from new customers
It's more expensive to attract new customers but they cannot be ignored - there could be a whole new marketplace out there, waiting for you to arrive!
New markets - have you ever thought about selling to the public sector? It's a sector that's still spending and the criteria to apply for projects are not as onerous as you might think. There is a useful feature on this topic on the Enterprise Nation site [link to ] that refers to sites where you can search for contracts and tenders - they are http://www.supply2.gov.uk/ and http://www.competefor.com/.
New products - partner with other companies to offer a new range or bundle of products and services. If you are a web designer, how about partnering up with a print designer so you can offer an online and offline service. You reap the benefits of doubling up on business development effort and the client wins as they receive a full and complete service.
New work from all customers
An effective way to generate new sales leads - and goodwill - is to bring your customers together and make introductions. Bonding your customers to each other at an event or gathering will bond them ever closer to you. Everyone wins; you secure new work and deeper relationships and your customers have the opportunity to do their own bit of business development too!