Does your business depend on personal selling for revenue? In a store front enterprise or mass-market/internet approach, you generally build your business through a pricing/quality service strategy or providing something unique in the marketplace. Customers come to your store or website because they already have an interest in what you are selling and then it becomes a matter of them deciding whether you can meet their needs. However, if you are reaching out to a potential customer rather than them coming to you, it is a very different selling situation.
When you develop a prospect list of target clients, those are potential sales leads that represent your best guess as a pool of potential customers. They may not know your company and typically you don’t know if they are “in market” for what you are selling. You can develop target sales leads from a number of sources: email lists, direct mailing lists sorted by zip code, or a recent purchase, website inquiries, trade shows sign-ups etc. The goal is to fill up your sales pipeline and it all starts with that customer’s response to your initial outreach. The challenge is, given the limited budget that most small business owners have for marketing, how do you get the most bang for your lead-generation buck?
Customers must self-qualify to be a viable lead. Start by creating your website, get on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter because it gives you direct contact with interested customers. If you engage with them, if asked you can follow-up with additional sales info and personal contact. This approach is relatively low-cost, flexible and but it takes time to build a relationship online that you can monetize. It takes 7 to 21 quality contacts before you can talk commerce, unless there’s an immediate need.
For example, recently I needed to renew my homeowner’s insurance. I took out my old policy and went online to check prices for the same coverage. I went to Homeinsurance.com to price out current costs and included a call to my existing provider. The result was a call to a local insurance agent (who had a website) representing an insurance carrier whose price was $250 less than the renewal on my current policy. I then went to a consumer reference site and looked up this new insurance company to see how they were rated for service. In the interim, the local agent sent me an email verifying prices and coverage. We closed the deal. I went from a lead to a closed customer in a matter of days. The clear lesson is that customers need every opportunity to self-qualify before the lead process can even begin, your job is to make as easy as possible for them to do business with you and that will certainly minimize your closing costs and get you more deals.
Draw Potential Customers In. If you are a retailer your focus is to generate in-store traffic. Use discount coupons, pricing specials, and promotional events (pony rides, face painting, free samples, free ice cream cones, etc.,) give folks a reason to visit your business. I know a local coffee shop that on Friday nights has an open mic night. Well after a few months of hosting it, they realized they made more money on Fridays than they do during the week serving coffee and sweets. Don’t be afraid to do something during your regular off hours to engage new potential customers.
Know Your Sales Cycle: Taking a sales lead from cold to closed depends on how big the deal is; the bigger the deal, the more time it takes to close the contract. If your small business is selling to the government or a Fortune 500 company it is rarely quick or easy. Do you have a handle on how long the sales cycle is or, how much time it usually takes for the customer to make the decision to buy? Will you personally be closing every deal or do you have a sales team. Can you afford the time for your closing process?
Once you have a prospect list figure out 3-5 ways to draw them to you. Social media marketing is a great place to start. Consider launching a blog to demonstrate your expertise. Then identify the bigger contracts that will take more strategy and work to close. Have a sales plan and then work your plan.
Do you have any advice to help small business owners cultivate sales leads?
|Don’t forget to Pre-order my new ebook How to Become a Social Media Ninja which will be released Oct. 15th. I’m providing 101 Tips to dominate your competition online. Go to https://succeedasyourownboss.com/ebook/ to place your order.|