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Better Prospecting with ACT!
In his article Prospecting Made Easier--With ACT! Arthur Mickelson tells of the importance of building a client base that is diversified, in size and purchasing power:
"As my new biggest client grew every year to become about 60% of my sales, I knew I'd have to diversify so 'all my eggs weren't in one basket.' I did expand but still got caught. I built my list so my 'Number 1 Client' was only about 11% of sales and my Top Ten were more than 80% of my sales.
One year..nine of my top ten clients either closed or reorganized. It was time to blitz for new relationships. With the help of ACT!, I have a blitz program that is averaging about 15% conversion of prospects to clients."
Ramon Ray, editor/analyst of Smallbiztechnology.com offers advice on how you can use your archived e-mail to drum up more business:
"Twice per year go through all the past email received. Email a short note to relevant contacts you've made but never kept in touch with to see what they are up to. Tell them what you are doing and see what happens. On many occasions you may find that both your businesses have grown vertically or horizontally. Either way, I've personally found that it's a great way to expand my 'active' e-Rolodex!"
Networking Smarts - Attend Alumni Associations That Aren't Yours!
When planning your personal networking strategy, check out your business associates who are active in their local college or university alumni associations. Ask if you can attend as a guest. Example: A business friend invited me to attend an alumni breakfast of his alma mater last Saturday. I was one of the few folks in attendance who had not graduated from the school, but was encouraged to stand up, briefly introduce myself and state my occupation. Guess what? I received requests from two folks in the audience for bids on their next Web projects. Alumni associations = business opportunities.
Turn Holiday Goodwill to Your Sales Advantage
If you're using a business directory to enhance your prospect list, you probably have to call each organization for a contact name. Make these calls the week between Christmas and New Years. No one feels like working, so receptionists, personal assistants, secretaries etc., are more likely to have time to speak with you. You may even reach your contact immediately.
Where's the "Hidden" Wealth?
A lot of folks with wealth don't show it off with fancy clothes and fast cars. There's business potential with "blue collar" companies such as plumbers, auto repair/maintenance, contractors and many others who have lucrative service businesses. Include some of these companies in your prospecting mix.
The "Sunday Drive" Can Pay Off
Go the distance with your prospecting by taking an hour each Sunday to drive around at least one office park in your local area. Note the names of businesses and their addresses. There are probably many that are not in your prospecting database.
CPAs & Attorneys = Mucho Referrals
Looking for referral business? Make sure that the CPAs (Certified Public Accountants) and lawyers in your local area know that your business exists. These professionals can be a major source of referral business, as they are important influencers on how their clients spend money and conduct business. These types of professional referrals can provide you with a consistent flow of qualified business.
Start At the Bottom
Bought a new prospecting list? Start calling the names at the bottom of the list. Many times the businesses near the end of a list never get prospected because salespeople never make it through the entire list. Give it a try. The "Zs" are probably lonely.
Many people join professional trade associations for access to current industry information. Another important membership attraction is an association's buying power for value-added deals on products and services that benefit its membership. How can your business profit from such an arrangement? Contact the group's Membership Director to arrange a meeting to discuss ways your products or services can be of use to his/her membership.
Remember the "Gatekeeper"
There must be a "gatekeeper", a secretary or administrative assistant, who has been helpful to you by putting in a good word with the boss about sending you more business. Cement that relationship! Send flowers, a special gift or a singing telegram. Want to really wow him or her...and the boss? Hire a temp to take the gatekeeper's place for a day. (Check with the boss beforehand. You don't want to surprise the top gun too much!) Contact a temporary agency and retain a high class, competent person who can handle details while the gatekeeper enjoys a day off.
Invite the "Expert" for Increased Business
Have a prospect that's a "tough nut to crack"? Invite him or her to be a speaker at your next important industry or network meeting. This gives your prospect the opportunity to be perceived as an "expert" and to sell the merits of his/her own business. It also increases your chances that the prospect may "give your business a try" in return.
It Pays to Be Appreciative
A local florist we know offers "Appreciation Days" for key referral sources: CPAs, bankers, attorneys, etc. She sends these folks an attractive floral arrangement that includes an coupon for a "CPAs only discount" on a particular day of the month. She has more referral business than any florist in town.
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