Thursday, September 06, 2007

A friendlier front

One of my clients asked me to send them something that they could forward on to a friend that was looking for IT services. I tried to write a good pitch and quoted my recently raised rates, which was all fine and dandy, but then I messed it up. I had been soured a bit by purely hourly work and the disjointed lack of focus that it would create for me so I said that I only do work on retainer, like I do with my current client.

What I failed to recognize, is that although I was being recommended, I still needed to earn my place in this prospective client's mind. Doing some small hourly projects is a great way to do that. Needless to say, that referral never called me back. Fortunately with a second recent referral, the friend giving it to me made some suggestions and that opened my eyes.

I still want my clients to pay a retainer in the long term because if I am managing their equipment I have to be constantly available, or have provisions made, and that is a large non-billable demand on my schedule. I of course wrap the retainer in with the price for phone support, minor incidents, and regular maintenance; but it is still a retainer.

As a side note, I also realized that I need to be more aggressive and/or professional in my sales and call referrals like that to follow up resolve any concerns. Maybe someday I'll learn this whole sales bit.

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