Every small business owner knows how important it is to keep their sales pipeline full. Some pieces of new potential business may have longer sales cycles than others and some expected to go ahead can be delayed. If you don’t keep prospecting for new work you could risk becoming a victim of feast and famine. Being too busy to prospect when you are delivering on a piece of work is dangerous. You need to keep prospecting to keep your pipeline full of good opportunities; otherwise, you risk finishing the last big project only to find you have nothing to replace it with.
Here are 5 ‘Natural Selling’ prospecting methods that will help you to keep the flow of good quality prospective clients.
Build a Team of Trusted Referral Partners
Referral marketing has been proven to be one of the most effective ways to generate new opportunities as well as one of the best ways to gain the trust of a potential client before you even meet them. So, how do you go about making this part of your sales prospecting strategy?
Think about the kind of businesses that could be closely aligned with yours? What type of service provider may see the need for your service whilst they are working with their clients.
For example, an accountant who knows his or her clients well and wants to help them to be more successful may see the need for a number of services e.g. financial advice from an IFA, marketing or sales help, a business mentor, management training, legal advice and more.
Or a telemarketing business may see the need for sales training or coaching to support clients that they generate appointments for.
A strategic marketing consultant may see the need for market research, digital marketing or branding and design. They may even wish to collaborate on projects.
If you seek out these providers and build a relationship with them, you could agree a number of leads to provide for each other or, alternatively, a thank you payment. Or it may be that your referral partner is happy just to make referrals to you, as a way of helping their clients more.
Once you have identified potential partners and approached them, you can discuss mutually beneficial referral arrangements.
Send a Prospect a Book
If you have a particular prospect in mind and have done your research, choose a book that corresponds to their needs, or something that you know they may have a challenge with. If you have your own book, you could send that. Add a note with the book that says something like … ‘Are you struggling with X … I thought that you might find this book useful, I have found it very helpful myself.’ Then once you know they have received the book (send a signed-for package), you can send an email or text asking if they might like to schedule a call to discuss. At this point you may introduce number 3 as an option.
Offer Complimentary Consulting Sessions
Focusing on one particular challenge that your ideal prospective client may have and offering them an initial complimentary consultation is a great way of starting a trusted relationship and positioning you as the expert. Having a structured offering that naturally leads to more is a great way to start a relationship with a new client.
This complimentary consultation, health check or advisory session can also be something that your referral partners could offer their clients. It is easier to make a referral when you are offering to give something as opposed to trying to sell something.
Make sure that this complimentary consulting session is clearly defined in terms of time and outputs. The next obvious step needs to be to engage with you. I would advise that complimentary sessions are between 30 mins and 2 hours depending on what the consultation is ideally designed to lead to.
Serve as a Connector
People (potential clients and referral partners) are usually more willing to connect you with potential buyers if you have made some valuable introductions for them first. So, when you get the opportunity, ask them to describe their ideal client and the pain points their service helps overcome. Ask them who they would most like introductions to. Then have a think about who you could connect them with, and offer to make the introductions.
I would describe myself as a natural connector and enjoy making the effort to make introductions as and when I can. I have noticed how much this is appreciated and how quickly it builds trust with those I wish to work with and with those currently work with.
Joint Events with Alliance Partners
You could form a close alliance with one or more business services that naturally compliment yours and run an education event to attract customers. Some examples of this could be – A Business Growth event with an accountancy firm, a bank and a business coach. It could be a Get it Right from the Start event with a Bank, a marketing company and business adviser. Or it could be a Putting People First event with a training company and an employee benefits company. You could all invite prospects to the event and all benefit from the added value each of you can provide. Alone there can be a lot of work and cost involved in organising and marketing prospective client events. But if there are a number of you involved in it, you are able to hold the event at one of the participating businesses’ premises, and you all get involved in the marketing of the event to your individual prospect lists, it can be a great way of bringing potential prospects together.
Education can be a very good first step in any new client relationship building strategy.
It is important that these events are well structured so that there are optional next obvious steps for attendees to take.
Events like this can be great ways of building prospect lists, ensuring that sales pipelines are kept full. Prompt and organised follow-up is vital to make the most of the energy and interest generated.
Now you have five creative sales prospecting ideas that you may not have thought of doing before.
Do any of them appeal? Are you going to try them out? I hope so.
Remember that you always need to be prospecting to keep your pipeline full of good quality potential clients.
Don’t let your pipeline run dry all because you were too busy delivering your service. Feast and famine can be avoided by thinking and planning early!
If you want to learn more about how my natural selling methods could help you win more clients more easily, I now have a 10 hour online training programme available.
To find out more go to http://jackie-jarvis.com/online-courses/