After exhausting your customer base, to generate new business sales leads look at your suppliers and other businesses. If you sell Business-to-Business, this particular tactic might give you another resource from your customers too.
Take a look at who your suppliers sell to; where is their target market? If you sell to businesses find their target market.
Maybe their market matches yours… but supplying a different product or service?
And take a look at other businesses – those you currently don’t have a relationship with – which ones keep the same target audience as you?
Put your negotiating hat on and contact those identified businesses. Aim to speak to the owner, Managing Director or Marketing Director because you need someone who can recognize the potential of what you propose and can make a decision.
Look for an arrangement that suits both parties – you and them.
One thing before you make your first approach… check the quality of what they supply and their reputation. You do not want to be associated with a company who does not match your standards. Because, apart from damaging your reputation, you wouldn’t want to introduce them to your customers. Company's unhappy customers may not value any recommendations they receive from that company. Then they won't benefit to you.
So what arrangement do you look for?
To increase new business sales leads you want the other business to recommend or endorse your offer.
You ask them to write to their customers recommending your product or service or with an exclusive offer. Be prepared to write the letter for them (they agree the content, of course) and expect to cover the costs of printing and postage. Of course, the most cost-effective promotion is via email – but you have to be confident your partner’s customers do read and respond to emails sent.
Anyone taking up the offer responds directly to you.
You need to code your offer so you know exactly what response you received.
Recompense: Agree a percentage or fixed amount as commission for each new business sales leads you gain.
Or – agree a reciprocal arrangement to introduce them to your list.
Depending upon what you supply, you may be asked to offer a special price to the other company’s customers rather than paying a referral commission – or both. Or the company you approach may have a favorite charity they support to which you could pay an agreed proportion of the profit you make.
If the organization you’ve approached makes regular deliveries to their customers you could suggest including a brochure/flier inside their packages. This is not as effective as a direct recommendation but may be all you can get them to agree to. Again, importantly, coding for monitoring results makes sure you gained sufficient new business to justify your expenditure.
There’s another way of generate new business sales leads. Tie your offer in with a breaking news story; a seasonal event or a current trend like fashion or health. ‘Piggy-backing’ on events that are in the news places the focus more keenly on what you are promoting because the topic is already in your target’s mind.
For example – at the moment a vast majority of people are concerned about their health. There is a huge industry based on the consumption of anything that promises to deliver health benefits.
But people still want to enjoy treats like biscuits, cakes and chocolate. That’s why it was such ‘hot news’ when researchers discovered dark chocolate was good for protecting against heart disease.So it made sense that a chocolate producer would create a healthier chocolate that delivers the naturally occurring health-enhancing antioxidants found in cocoa beans.
Tying the indulgence of a chocolate treat with a real, scientifically researched health benefit makes marketing sense.
So how can you tie your product or service in with a news event or current trend? Scan the newspaper headlines or listen to what’s going on around you. Can you put out a timely offer that fits neatly with what people are talking about and looking for? Is there a PR story you can send out?
Keep your eyes open for every opportunity to grab attention for your business.
The above describe offer prevails on the internet… I’m sure you heard the term affiliate. An affiliate arrangement recommends a product, course, newsletter or program to the people on his/her list. S/he gets paid a commission for each sale made as a result of that recommendation. (In fact, setting up an affiliate program may be something you might want to consider).
Although widely accepted on the internet, bricks and mortar businesses are not always as open to the idea. Which means when you approach a company you’ve identified as being suitable for this arrangement the idea may be quite alien to them for building new business sales leads.
They will be skeptical about possible advantages and concerned about losing or upsetting their customers.
You need to reassure them your product or service is top quality and explain the satisfaction guarantees you offer. You need to demonstrate your commitment to customer service – use your existing customer testimonials to support your claims.
And you need to clearly explain the answer to the other business owner’s “What’s in it for me?” question. If you suggest a commission payment, explain how much you expect to pay each month. Remind them this money goes to their bottom-line profits without any expenditure from them.
I suggest you send a personal letter explaining you have a proposal that could be mutually beneficial to both your businesses and suggest you meet up for a no obligation exploratory discussion.
It is not necessarily an easy arrangement to achieve. You'll probably meet a lot skepticism. However, by tackling it, you dip into a pool of new business sales leads that could result into hot prospects.
This is probably one of the most difficult to put in place – but can be lucrative when implemented successfully.
Set up an arrangement with a competitor you rate and trust and pass on any inquiries you can’t convert into sales. It may be you don’t supply that particular service; your pricing doesn’t match; you’re too busy to take that project on, or you just didn’t gel with the prospect – there was no rapport between you… hey, it happens!
If there’s likely to be an equal amount of opportunities coming from your competitor you can agree to just pass them over. If there’s no real certainty, then agree a percentage commission that suits both sides.
After all – the inquiry you’re passing over is a warm lead they haven’t had to do any work to get, so why shouldn’t they be prepared to pay the introductory fee?
Do you ask for referrals? Many of the business people I’ve asked only do so when a purchase is completed. They rarely ask at any other time but obviously hope they will get referrals.
However, the problem is everyone is busy and under pressure these days, so it is extremely unlikely that your customers are actively thinking “Who can I recommend XYZ to?”
Think about it – even if you have provided the greatest service or product your happy customer may not think about telling other people or giving you information about other business people who are looking for what you offer. And it’s not because he doesn’t want to help you. . . It is purely because he is busy, and it doesn’t occur to him.
And yet many of our customers would happily recommend our service or products if asked, they just need a gentle reminder.
For many businesses, referrals generate new business sales leads. Businesses that actively seek out recommendations usually gain a higher benefit than those who just leave it to chance.
That’s why for new business sales leads it is up to you to have a structured, almost automated, referral generation system in your business.
The best time to ask for recommendations is when your customer has just experienced your product, or service. Keep a quality-check follow-through during which you make sure your customer got exactly (or perhaps more than he was expecting). As a natural step, upon product receipt, ask him who else maybe looking for the same products or service.
If you mail out physical products, you can include referral cards for your customer to complete and send back.
Offering an incentive
Depending upon your business it may be appropriate to offer an incentive – or as I prefer to think of it – a ‘Thank You’ gift. I’m sure you’ve seen companies who offer gift vouchers to you and to the person you recommend or a discount on future purchases.
Personally, I prefer to give a ‘Thank You’ gift that is linked with the service or product I supply – rather than something that is not related to my business and, therefore, may not be of interest to my customer or contact.
Steps for a referral system.
Referrals are one of the most powerful and cost effective ways of finding new business sales leads.
When your customers or business colleagues recommend your product or service you have a higher chance of closing that sale. Especially compared to a new inquiry you get through your marketing activities.
It makes sense to ask our customers to recommend us and, if possible, give us details of other potential buyers we can approach. But how many of us actively look for referrals?
You certainly don’t want to pester your customers when looking for new business sales leads but it is important to keep the idea of recommending you in their minds.
I came across this tip a newsletter I receive. It was suggested by Michele Peterson, a freelance copywriter and member of AWAI. And it is one of those ideas that make you say “Why didn’t I think of that?”
To generate new business sales leads, simply add a P.S. to your email signature asking for referrals.
P.S. Who do you know that would like to boost their business with a more effective digital strategy and implementation? Please tell them that we are passionate about increasing their ROI.
They’ll thank you for the tip-off, as will I.
Remind people about what you can do for business owners and asking them to pass our details to anyone looking for the services or products you deliver. Also say that we appreciate any referrals they pass on to us.
As Michele said in her article “It’s not pushy. It’s simply planting the seed of a potential referral and keeping my word-of-mouth marketing campaign ‘watered’.”
The advantage of including it in your signature is that it is automatically inserted into every email you send out.
With this tag you not only prompt your customers but also remind all your business colleagues, including your suppliers, that you welcome referrals.
Michele also suggests adding a similar note to the bottom of your invoices and on the back of your business cards… remember the back of your business card is a valuable marketing space and should never be blank.
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