“More probable” prospective customers are those companies and / or individuals MORE likely to do business with you – and do it sooner rather than later.
“Less probable” prospective customers (also known as “tire-kickers” , “lookey-loos”, and “window shoppers”) slow you down and hold you back from growing revenues. Working with those who are not qualified can be a waste of time for both parties.
Don't get me wrong - if someone is interested but it is simply not the right time yet for them to make a purchase, the relationship needs to be nurtured. You need to set the right next-actions with them and be there when they are ready. They are qualified but not ready - different than unqualified.
Let’s talk about 5 ways that you can get leads to fill your pipeline.
First – understand that you NEED a robust pipeline (or funnel)
Pipeline: Much larger on the LEFT with “leads” or “suspects”. Gets narrower as you move to the right, at Interested / Consulted With / Qualified / Selected / Closure / Reference
Funnel: Starts much bigger at TOP with “leads” or “suspects” Gets smaller as you go down.
Either way works – just understand that it takes many more prospects to get to the handful of sales opportunities where buyers are ready, willing, and motivated to buy now.
1. For services providers, live events, including but not limited to networking events are a great place to find strategic partners who can refer you business. Look for the right live events where these types of partners might be. In a room of 100 people, there might just be 5 you should be following up with – try not to get sidetracked.
2. You can prospect and build business from your desk and never leave your office if you wanted to. Create robust profiles in LinkedIn.com and other virtual sites where your market is - then update what you are working on, answer LinkedIn questions, connect to others, and join appropriate LinkedIn groups. (If you are working with educators or schools, try education associations. If you work with human resources, try SHRM - for example)
3. Existing clients provide great opportunity to do more business – stay on the cutting edge to know what they need, and what they are trying to do. Offer new opportunities with existing clients as they already know you, trust you, and value your work.
4. Referrals are KING when it comes to finding prospective customers. Whether someone is a customer, an official strategic partner, or just someone who knows what you do and wants to be helpful – referrals are the best way to do business. When someone is referred to you, their guard is somewhat down. If they trust the person who referred you – the deal is practically done. Be ready to just offer details on how you work and see if they are ready to get started.
5. Testimonials on your website, on your business Facebook page, and on sites like LinkedIn are like digital salespeople on your behalf. Not only should you be asking those who know your work to endorse you, but you should plan to create a testimonial each week for one of your strategic partners or colleagues.
Notice that NONE of these ways involve a strategy of “cold calling” other than perhaps an introductory call to a warm contact. So don’t get worked up about reaching these folks – and go after the low hanging fruit in your database and on your social connections.
The biggest thing is that you make time in your calendar to do this – every day if you need to, or at least blocking out time each week.
Need more support on this? Send an email to lori at scoremoresales (dot) com to receive our Sales Pipeline Tool at no cost to you. If you need more help on this, we consult with small businesses and entrepreneurs in 30-minute increments.