As we groove on through Q3 of 2013, the planning for 2014 is in full force. Regardless the industry or function your business serves, it is the time of year to prepare for next year’s engagements. As entrepreneurs, we do not have the luxury to wait for clients to ask about the next year; we have to initiate the conversation. Here are two ways to get a leg up on this annual budget dance.
Be an asset
Hopefully before now, you have positioned yourself as an asset to your client. Even if you haven’t, it’s not too late. In fact, it is the perfect time. Read and share articles in your client’s industry. Understand what competitors of your clients are doing and offer ideas to beef up your client’s perception against the competition. It’s your job to be that “extra” team member for your client. All this activity is making you and your company indispensable to this client and his/her future plans. Do this for every client you have.
Ask, ask again
Ask your clients about their goals and objectives for the coming year. Offer up assistance in shaping them, if they are not yet set. If they are already laid out, understand them and take the time to brainstorm with your team to come up with opportunities to collaborate with each client to make their next year’s goals and objectives attainable. Ask for a 2014 planning meeting solely designed to give your clients the ideas you’ve come up with to help them reach those 2014 milestones. Make sure those ideas are tied to what you and you alone can deliver to that client.
The 2014 budget dance will go through the fall, without question. Better to be the business to who started the talks and helped on the front end rather than the business coming to the table in Q4.
Denise W. Barreto is the managing partner at Relationships Matter Now, LLC, a strategic business and marketing firm outside Chicago that connects relationships to maximize life and business. www.relationshipsmatternow.com