SCORE Small Business Blog

The Basics of Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone and Cultivating Leads
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In a perfect selling world, you’d collect a few major clients who would remain loyal forever and whose needs would never change.  You’d rarely have to look for new business.  Sounds great, except that in the real world, you have to consistently find ways to get new customers.  In other words, you’ve got to network and use the source of your business to achieve new customers.

Some entrepreneurs dread networking or shows because it forces them to go outside their safe, familiar circle of contacts.  But the truth is most of your potential business lies outside your comfort zone.  Why, well most small business owners only want to do what they do best and what they went into business for, repairing cars, building computers, baking, and so on but not to sell.

Here are some ideas to help you get more clients:

Keep in touch.  Send 10 emails or letters a day.  All you need is one sentence: “Thought you’d enjoy the enclosed” or “Thanks for your help.”  People like the personal touch.

Meet at least one new person every day, either on the phone, social media or in person.  Attend events where at least 50 people will be in attendance.  Then, whatever you do, don’t spend all your time with people you already know.  Mingle and make new acquaintances.

Don’t try to meet everyone in the room.  Pick three powerful people and get as much as you can from them.  It is better to connect with one or two interesting people than try to meet everyone at an event.  Making a few qualified contacts is much better than collecting 50 business cards.

Listen first, talk later.   You aren’t learning anything if you’re talking.  When you meet contacts, ask questions.  Find out who they are, what they do and what their interests are.  Then decide whether they’re qualified enough for you to pursue the conversation.

Use your current contacts to get new ones.  People who are satisfied with your product and service are the best kind of advertising you’ll ever find.  Ask them if they know of anybody else who could benefit from your product or service.  If you believe in not only the value of what you’re selling, but also your value as a salesperson, then you have the right to ask.

It doesn’t matter how you network.  What matters is your goal:  Don’t just find more customers; find the customers who will benefit most from what you offer and form strong, solid relationships with them.  After all, that’s what networking is all about.

For vendor shows, business expos, or any other activity where you are showing your products or services you might want to do the following:  Collect names, emails, phone numbers for both land lines and cell phones and address for home or business so that you may put these into a database to use later on for contacting them.

To get these names have either a signup sheet for them or a free prize or drawing of which they have to give this information to you.  If you use social medial be sure to respond to a request within 24 hours or sooner and then follow-up. One may follow-up with these new leads with letters, postcards, email newsletter, sales letter or posting to your social media sources.  Then repeat the process on a regular basis (not yearly!).  The key to this process of marketing is persistence and consistence.  Good luck.

Roger DaughertyMentor, SCORE North Central Ohio
Roger has been a SCORE mentor for 25 years, helping numerous small businesses start and grow. His background includes manufacturing, sales, education. He is an active participant in local Chambers of Commerce, business workshops and networking groups.
SCORE Mentors | www.ncoscore.org | LinkedIn | More from Roger

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Discussion (1) Comment

  1. This is some great advice! My company (SuretyBonds.com) works with business owners every day. I will be sure to share these tips with them :)

 

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