Referrals – Better than Average Lead Generators
Over the years, I’ve worked with some of the best professional salespeople in this country. They had one thing in common, they all knew the value of lead generation (and in most cases) personally generated anywhere between 50% and 100% of the leads they worked. Their leads were made up of a combination of referral and self generated leads.
Once I learned about the power of referral and self-generated leads, my closing rate improved in leaps and bounds – as did the quality of the people I sold to. At one time, I closed 39 sales in 39 presentations without making an appointment – the appointments were made by the clients I had just sold to, and they were so excited their friends neither hesitated to make and appointment, nor questioned why their friends bought. In those days, my closing rate (over a two year period) stood at 89% & 92% with a cancellation rate of around 0.2%. And that’s a pretty good performance in direct selling.
This has to be the most powerful tool at the salesperson’s disposal. It has been my main source of income for over 50 years now. So how do you get it operating in your favour? This varies from locality to locality as much as it varies from industry to industry. You’ll have to trial and error, then refine, refine, and refine some more. That’s the main reason so many of those in sales avoid working their referrals as well as they should. It’s hard work to get it right, then you need to keep working at it to make it pay. But it’s the most rewarding, and most effective way to build your pipeline. And if you don’t have some sort of structured referral program from your consumer base, shame on you!
Endorsement Selling or Alliance Selling
Who do you know that’s a centre of influence and would write a letter your products and business? On the other hand, who do you know that has built a trusting relationship with their customers? If you can figure out how it would benefit that person to endorse you and your company, you should make sales as a result. It’s called endorsement selling or can be called alliance selling. You could pay them a commission; exchange your database for theirs; offer a free service or sample that would add value to their clients. Maybe your products are something their customers need and would benefit from. If you get a written endorsement, suggest you draft the endorsement letter, and they transcribe the contents onto their letterhead and sign it for you. Who do you know that likes your product or service and has a trusting relationship with your ideal prospects? Put together an irresistible proposal for this person right now? You won’t be sorry.
This can be achieved two ways:
By selling/providing a product/service that will compliment an existing product/service.
By working your product as an add-on/adjunct product with one or more other clients, prospects or referrers either from their data base, by referral or by mutual alliance.
The bottom line is, what products/services do you provide that may help value-add to your existing major product or service category? Or what adjunct product or services would work with one or more other clients, prospects or referrers either from their data base, by referral or by mutual alliance?
Selling by Calling Your Warm Market
Make up a list of every person you know on a first name basis and call them. Some say, the average person knows about two hundred people. Your list should include family, friends, neighbours, old classmates, church and social groups, club members, co-workers, etc. Once you start this list, you’ll be amazed how many people you know. Many of those on this list could be ideal prospects for your business. But as many of those that are not, will usually refer others, if asked, who will be.
Making Sales by Being a Marketer
Some say the luckiest people in the world are those who know lots of other people. That’s true. Others attract clients through business lunches, networking, civic groups, talks, conventions, etc.. Others generate sales leads in elevators, queues, at the supermarket or any place that positions you next to people. The trick is to make stay proactive. Don’t just hope something good happens. Draw attention to yourself, ask questions and make comments when appropriate that relate to your business. When you meet someone for the first time, look for casual ways to lead the conversation towards business. Do this and you’ll be surprised how quickly people become prospects.
Cold Calling a Target Market
Cold calling has to be the most difficult form of prospecting. Just the thought of the phrase “Cold Calling” has never pleased me. I personally prefer to call it “Prospect Canvassing.” At least that implies a positive scenario. Now let me give you two ways to make your cold calling (Prospect Canvassing) more doable.
- Only call on those you’ve identified as ideal prospects for your program. It may involve door knocking, phone books, group lists or target demographic group sectors. The process is usually slow, time consuming or cumbersome – and that’s why so many pay for commercially created prospect list’s.
- When calling, never work without a pre-prepared script with questions designed to keep the prospect warm for other calls, email material to get you the appointment. However, any call you make where you dispatch material, always follow-up within 48 to 72 hours – otherwise, you could squander the opportunity to keep control – or they will go ‘cold’. And never make any promises you don’t keep to the letter.
Selling via Drip Campaigns
Here’s a very powerful but long-range strategy for attracting people to you. Send them something of value for free, on a regular basis. Newsletters, brochures, emails, reports, cassettes, faxes etc. are always well received. But it must be done on a regular basis. It’s somewhat like using Chinese Water Torture – but with a positive result. Here’s a hint. The way to get this going is to get them to request the material or give you permission to send it – alternately simply advise them you’ll send it. Providing it’s relative to them, has items of value, and it’s free, no-one should object. Always get permission directly from the person – not their assistants or staff members.
Using Seminars and Mass Presentations
Can be an excellent lead generator, but can prove expensive – very expensive. But, if done well, can also be very cost effective. To make it work, you’ll need to find ways to get in front of groups (large and small) and give them the benefit of your knowledge/experience free, and may include: sponsoring a breakfast, group meetings, breakout sessions, seminars or keynote addresses at community group venues such as Rotary, Lions etc. But make sure you’re speaking to your target audience. Just ask yourself who’d benefit from knowing what you know about your products or business. Work with the leaders of these groups and offer the group something they’ll benefit from in exchange for an endorsement. You’ll be surprised at how many will.
Using Training Seminars/Freebies to Sell
This too can be an excellent lead generator, but can be less expensive to stage than point 9 above. Depending on how you go about it and the venue you choose, it may cost very little. But, there is a big but. If you’re not as good about the subject as you may make yourself out to be, it could backfire on you big-time. Unlike a group talk or seminar, where you can get away with being mediocre, once you embark on a training program (even if it is free) people will expect to benefit from the session and they’ll to compare you to others. Depending on your subject or audience, they may even expect you to be as good as the best they’ve attended in the field. Remember, your seminar may be free, but their time is not. If you don’t build their expectations too high, you may not get the numbers you’d like, but you won’t tarnish your reputation either.
Selling Through Joint Ventures
The Joint Venture concept is not the same as the alliance program mentioned above. The Joint Venture really needs for you to tap into companies that have subscriber lists or databases of your ideal prospects. Here you offer to make your newsletter available to their lists at no charge. You get free exposure and they get to offer an added value service to their subscribers/members. Once you become established as an expert in your industry and/or build up a large subscriber list, organizations will seek you out and ask for permission to reprint articles.
Selling Through Direct Mail Campaigns
Most businesses don’t have the slightest idea how to conduct a direct business mail campaign – just look at the stuff they send out. The greatest mistake you can make in direct mail is send too much information – especially to the wrong people – and for the wrong reasons. To make any Direct mail campaign and effective campaign, here are four simple rules to follow:
- Call first, make sure you’re speaking to the right person & they agree to review your material
- Send them only two or three pieces of information – but not all of it at one time.
- Follow-up after the mailing and make sure they got it and looked it over. On the first follow-up they’ll usually tell you they’ve got it but haven’t looked at it yet.
Call every few days until they look over your material – or refuse to take your calls. If you’re not willing to follow these four steps, don’t waste your money on direct business mail.
Selling Through Advertising Campaigns
If you’re going to advertise, at least take a short course in some form of direct response advertising. That way you’ll be aware you need to response measure and quantify everything you spend your money on. It’s the only way you’ll tell if it’s working or not over a specified campaign period. Be aware that advertising needs, programs, and types are generally product, service and consumer driven. What works for one industry type may not work for another. Having said that, the best advertising I see today uses a lot of text with great headlines and has a compelling call to action such as offering free reports, newsletters, information or samples. People that respond to these offers are usually good qualified prospects. Do you have a free report about how your product or service can solve end user problems? Or do you need to make your clients/prospects aware they have a problem before you can go about solving it? If you do, then you need to advertise that fact.
Copy and distribute this content as often as you want. You are encouraged to share it. © Copyright Peter Collins, Sydney, Australia, 2002, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2017
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This Article is by Peter Collins – In a sales career spanning more than 53 years, Peter Collins has focused on helping and bringing out the best in others – whether it involves training or mentoring salespeople, managers, business consulting to SME’s. Since the 1970’s Peter has built a reputation as a Nationally and Internationally Published author, and has 68 business books to his credit, but he is mainly known for one book based on the Audio Tape series of the same name, Over 50 Ways of Closing the Sale. Peter had his first book published in 1969 and now has over 133 books in all, including Business, Marketing, Sales, Free Publicity, Body Language, Music and over 30 Christian books to date. Peters books have sold over 2.5 Million copies of his books over 49 years. In his personal life, Peter has been sought after as an encourager and motivator that has given of his time and talents freely despite his busy schedule. Subsequently, he has assisted churches, pastors, community and charity groups, as well as individuals through his teaching, training, development and on-going mentoring.
© Copyright Peter Collins, Profit Maker Sales, Sydney, Australia, 1994, 2002, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2017, all rights reserved. Peter can be contacted through his website – profitmakersales.com
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