No matter how good a job you do for your customers, it’s inevitable that you’ll lose one or two along the way. That’s why it’s important to have an ongoing marketing program in place. The two best sources for new business orders are (1) referrals from customers, suppliers and other contacts; and (2) additional orders from existing customers.
While these two sources are your top priorities, you should also reach out to a larger audience. That’s when things get tougher for you or the designated salespeople in your organization. Let’s face it: Very few of us enjoy cold calling prospects. It conjures up visions of the character in “Death of a Salesman” who pounds the pavement armed with nothing but a “smile and a shoeshine” – and these days, who has time for a shoeshine?
The fact is, you can raise the prospect’s temperature before making an initial contact by doing your homework.
First assignment: Consider the best customers you already have. What makes them a good fit for your capabilities? What is it about them that you would like to see in a new customer? What is it you provide your customers that keeps them doing business with you? These answers will help you define your ideal new customer.
Second assignment. Research companies you’d like to approach. You’re looking for how well they match the criteria of your ideal customer. Check out their Web sites and any social media they use, such as LinkedIn or Facebook. Perform online searches to see if they’re mentioned in the trade media. Find out who their customers are and what professional associations they belong to. Do you have any of these in common? Do you have mutual acquaintances (suppliers, association members, etc.) who can tell you more about the company or, better yet, make an introduction?
Third assignment: Compile a list of those companies you’ve researched that best match your ideal customer profile. Now consider their needs and your capabilities. What is it you can provide better than your competitors? Which of your existing customers would be willing to be a reference to support your claims?
Once you’ve completed these exercises, you’re ready to make direct contact with the prospective customer. The knowledge you’ve gleaned should help you present legitimate reasons for the prospect to see you, enable you to speak to their needs and to offer solid evidence that you would be an ideal resource.