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Here’s How I Grew Five Businesses, and Eventually Sold One to a Fortune 500 Company.
Selling: Getting Your Foot in the Door of Your Client
Selling: Getting Your Foot in the Door of Your Client.
I coach nearly all of my clients to personally do some outside selling, even if they have outside salespeople on their teams. In order to lead your salespeople, you need to have personally walked in their shoes. If you know how to do selling, you can relate to your sales person’s challenges, you can teach them how to do the job, you will know how to monitor their performance and you can help them establish realistic goals.
One particular client had no sales background; he is involved in operations. I helped him to establish sales goals and sales targets. He had a list of around 500 prospects. His question to me was the following; “How can I get my foot in the door with these prospects?” Here is my counsel to him and to you.
There are basically two types of prospects:
1. Warm leads.
This is when you have a personal referral or introduction.
2. Cold leads.
This is when you have no introduction or referral.
Go with the warm leads first.
You should have already created your big list and a small list of contacts. You have a list of some past and present customers. Go to all of them and ask for referrals. Here’s the process you can use. Visit your customers and thank them for using you. Ask them if they are satisfied with your service or business. If so, this would also be a good time to ask for a testimonial. (For more information on getting testimonials to see the coaching tip “Creative Ways to Grow Your Business.”)
Ask the following question to customers and other referral sources: “Who do you know that could benefit from my service?” To help prompt their memory, you can show them your prospect list and ask if they know anyone on your list. Once they have identified some prospects for you, the best scenario would be your referral source endorsing you first. They can call your prospects in advance, join you for a conference call or meet with you both. Otherwise, tell them that you will contact these people that they have recommended. Contact these “warm leads” and tell the prospect that you promised your referral source that you would contact them. Then do the following:
How to Get Your Foot in the Door With Warm Leads
• Ask if you are calling at a convenient time; “Did I call you at a bad time?” If not, ask them when would be a good time to call back. Establish a day and time.
• At the appointed time, call your prospect and remind them that you promised your referral source that you would contact them.
• Explain the nature of your relationship with your referral source; you have served your client for three years, you have known your referral source for 2 years, etc. If you received a testimonial from your customer, share that with your prospect.
• Briefly discuss your service and how your service benefits your clients. In selling you want to point out what “pain points” your service eliminates.
• Ask if your prospect would be available for a brief meeting (30 minutes to 1-hour maximum) to better understand their business. Face-to-face meetings are the best way to develop a relationship and eventually win the business.
• If the prospect will not commit to a meeting, ask if you may touch base with them in the future at a more convenient time. Get their email address. Send them a thank you note for speaking with you over the phone.
• Send them interesting emails, call them from time to time to see how their business is going, or stop by their business with a gift or information. Always be brief, non-pushy and respectful of their time. Become their friend.
• If the prospect grants you an appointment, then your foot is in the door. If they grant you permission to contact them again in the future, they are still a warm lead. If they are not interested, move on to the next prospect.
• If you ask for referrals from all of your contacts and with all of your past and present customers, you may never run out of warm leads. But if you do, move next to cold leads.
How to Get Your Foot in the Door With Cold Leads
Your goal is to turn your cold leads into warm leads. This is an important part of selling. Lower your expectations with cold leads, but remain optimistic. Most cold leads will not do business with you. However, some will if you are respectful and make enough calls!
• Call your prospect and be forthright that you are making a prospecting call. Ask them if you may take 45 seconds of their time so that you and your prospect may determine if there is a fit between your offering and their business needs.
• If they say “yes” give them your 30-second commercial. Then ask them if they would have any interest in continuing a conversation at a time that is convenient for them. Honor your promise on the 30 seconds; some will actually time you.
• If they say “yes” go to the first bullet point for warm leads and follow the process.
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