Finding new customers is, without a doubt, the most difficult and stressful aspect for any business seeking to grow or expand. There are many ways to make prospecting for new clients less like a chore and more like extending your amazing family.
Prospecting is more of an attitude than a cumbersome and difficult activity. Since you can’t predict where your next customer lead will develop, it’s good to always have an open mind and spirit for embracing the unknown. You can generate leads almost anywhere, from your child’s basketball game to the grocery line to sitting in the waiting room at the auto shop…or even in the Santa line at the mall. Don’t think of prospecting as quoting product features and service benefits; rather, think about it as relationship-building and giving people a reason to believe in you and your company—and a reason to buy. That’s the magic of any season!
It’s very important that you take the time to devise a realistic and workable plan of engagement before trying to generate any leads. Being strategic, but real, makes a world of difference. You wouldn’t give a speech about the merits of your company without first planning what to say and how to say it. And you’d certainly try to be as engaging as possible if potential investors were in the crowd. The same thought process should be adopted before you begin to prospect for individual clients. The right combination of research, planning, and implementation can increase your market presence and make your company and its mission known to your newly targeted audience.
Prospect development is a habit. Make it a part of your daily business life and create a rhythm. Here are just a few ways you can get started:
1. Begin every day by making five new contacts.
2. Know your data. Data tracking tools should be your trusty, prospecting sidekick.
3. Own your inner tech geek. Constantly be aware of new and innovative technology tools, and know how to leverage the technology you currently use.
One of the easiest ways to start to familiarize folks with your business is to create an online persona and presence through social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Leveraging these online communities can provide your small business affordable ways to communicate with potential customers; you can create a “voice” for your business online and connect with “fans” or “followers”, which eventually will lead to sales or referrals. This will strengthen your current network and expand your reach.
4. Always be willing to help and listen, instead of close the sale.
Ask your satisfied customers for their feedback and for permission to spread the word to their friends and colleagues through online vehicles. Chances are you have more fans than you know, so use the power of referral marketing
5. Become a leader in your industry – be a part of the digital and live community of “movers and shakers” in your business.
Post meaningful blogs to your own website but link to other social media sites, as well. Post responses/advice to blogs that are local, industry related, product & services related, etc. Make sure that your online signature includes all of your contact info.
Conferences, trade shows, seminars and civic organizations can be great resources for prospective customers. Attending industry events is a great way to meet colleagues and to build a network of professional associates in the industry. Also, consider partnering with other businesses; forming an alliance with people in the same market can be mutually beneficial.
Volunteer and support local causes. Get your company’s name in front of other local business owners by volunteering with various civic organizations. This is a great way for your company to gain positive recognition. Finally, invest in the next generation. Speaking engagements, career days, etc., can garner interest in your company by both future employees and the people who support their growth.
No cost/low-cost prospecting is a business ideology and requires careful planning.
Here are some helpful hints to remember:
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