A friend of mine just asked me how he can get more new customers in 2011. It turns out that he was so busy servicing his existing clients that he had had time to get new ones. And now, revenue was down.
He was thinking about using a phone marketing strategy -- otherwise known as cold calling. But he simply hated cold calling and didn’t know what to do. If that sounds like you -- then you will love this easy to get more ideal customers calling YOU.
1. Make a list of everyone you know. The general rule of thumb is that people can list at least 250 people that they know. Go ahead and give that a shot. Sit down and list everyone you know. Don't stop and think too much just yet, keep writing down names until you can't think of anymore.
2. Identify your nearest and dearest. Next, go through that list and check all the people that are closest to you. These will be your inside referrers. They are the folks that you can call anytime and ask a question, and they will give you an honest answer.
3. Identify your referral partners. Referral partners are people who come before you or after you in the buying process. They work in related fields. For example, if you sell car insurance, that car dealer might be a potential referral partner. Now, go through your list of 250 people and mark your referral partners.
4. Develop a referral guideline. Think of your referral guidelines as a product selling sheet. Only in this case, the product is you. In your referral guideline, describe your company and what sets you apart from other alternatives; profile your ideal customer; create a bulleted list of what a prospect might say that should make them think of you;, tell people how to refer you; and describe all the different ways that you can thank your referrer, such as offering a referral fee.
5. Set up meetings. Now that you have your referral guideline, you are ready to start meeting with your inside referrers and referral partners. Go through your list of inside referrers and contact them to schedule a meeting. You can meet face-to-face. And you can also take advantage of today’s technology such as LinkedIn to develop your list. You can also use tools like Skype or GoToMeeting, or just the phone, to chat with your referrers. Tell them that you are building your business using referrals and review the referral guideline with them. Then ask for their feedback.
6. Identify centers of influence. You know you found a center of influence when they say the sky is falling and everyone runs to hide. But don't make the mistake of thinking that a center of influence has to have a big title. Anyone can be a center of influence, as long as your ideal customer sees them as a trusted adviser. Your objective should be to court at least five centers of influence. Treat them like the goose that lays the golden egg. Because they are your biggest advocate in your most profitable sales people.
7. Have daily referral conversations. The most important thing that you can do in this process is be consistent. Make sure you have at least three conversations per day about who you are and what you do.
8. How can I help you? Start every referral conversations with this question: “ How can I help you?” Be sure to ask your referrer who their ideal client is and what you can do to connect them to someone who can help their business.
9. Keep the process going. The more consistent you are, the more new customers you're going to get. Don't make the mistake of stopping. You will regret it. When you stop connecting with potential referrers, new customer opportunities will dry up. Believe me, I speak from experience.
Use this list as a checklist of activities that you can schedule as part of your daily or weekly sales and marketing tasks. And the best news is that today’s social media tools make this process not only easy, but oftentimes fun. One word of warning: run through these activities consistently, and you may have to hire an assistant. Fall off the bandwagon, and you’ll be left twiddling your thumbs.
Ivana Taylor is CEO of Third Force, a strategic firm that helps small businesses get and keep their ideal customer. She’s the co-author of the book “Excel for Marketing Managers” and proprietor of DIYMarketers, a site for in-house marketers. Her blog is Stretegy Stew.