Ten top tips: fake it til you make it

You may be small, but your clients don't need to know that, suggests Moneypenny co-founder Ed Reeves.

by Ed Reeves
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

The Federation of Small Businesses says small business confidence is at a three-year high. The downside, of course, is that competition among small firms is higher than ever – but Ed Reeves, the co-founder of call centre services Penelope and Moneypenny, argues that there are ways and means of attracting new business. It’s merely a matter of faking it…

1. Get a City office
A huge proportion of businesses with a registered City address have never actually set foot inside that office – it’s all for appearance. It’s easy to pull off: go for a virtual option from a serviced office, so you can rent a meeting room or a workspace when you need to – thereby showing that you really do have smart City premises. Just make sure you’re in when your clients call…

2. Have a professional email
Using an internet (@gmail.com or @hotmail.co.uk) email account doesn’t look very professional. Getting an email with your company name as the suffix couldn’t be easier – and it’ll immediately help you project a larger company image.

3. Lose the mobile
Advertising home address and mobile details will just make you look like a small company in its infancy. Make sure this information doesn’t appear anywhere – from your website, email signature to company literature. You can always give a mobile number personally to someone if an appropriate situation arises.

4. Beware background noise
When making or receiving a business call, a prospect should never, ever be subjected to background noise of pets, TV, children, friends etc. Even if you don’t have an office, find somewhere quiet so it sounds like you’re in a professional business setting

5. Hire a (digital) receptionist
Telephone answering services or digital receptionists, specifically targeted for small businesses, are a quick and easy way to make your business more efficient and look bigger than it is. Sending missed calls through to your voicemail screams ‘unprofessional’, and the majority of callers won’t ring back after hearing an engaged tone. It’s imperative customers and potential customers have the best experience possible from the very first touch point with your business

6. Clicks not bricks
Your website is the public face of your business. It’s the first thing a prospect will check when verifying your credibility and to get a feel for whether you are a good fit for them.We live in an era where there is more business done online than in person. Make sure you don’t skimp on your website and that, where relevant, you have enabled an ecommerce functionality

7. Mandy from finance
Another way to amplify your business is to segment your company into departments like IT, accounts and customer service. Asking callers to select which department they wish to speak to using auto attendant or voice recognition technology instantly gives the feeling of a larger outfit. This is especially useful if you are working with bigger businesses, as the accounts department will expect to liaise with someone in the ‘finance’ department. They don’t need to know that all calls come through to you…

8. Match the wheels to your deals
Depending on which company you are meeting, match your mode of transport accordingly. If you’re meeting a luxury brand and a top executive, consider renting a car that makes you look like you fit with the company

9. Dress for success
It should go without saying but always, always suit up for business meetings. Being too casual is a huge turn off, especially for a corporate prospect. If in doubt, go formal

10. … but don’t over-promise
It’s tempting to promise the world if you’re about to sign a deal with a big business – but remember your limitations. Saying you can deliver 20,000 units in two weeks when you know you only have the capacity to make 5,000 a week will lead to disappointment on both sides.

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