As sales folks we’re always looking for leads, right? Over the years the most productive trick for me is to have a lot of sources of prospects always churning around in my daily prospecting routine.
Here are some of my regular money-makers…
Keep Up on the News
Whether it’s Google News online or the good old-fashioned newspaper, keep in the know.
At least once a week I will spot a person, an organization, or a trend that has an interesting business angle for me. These opportunities are going to look a little different for every sales person, but here are some real examples readers have shared with me:
- A local region was targeted by the Department of Energy for funding smart grid technology. One of our readers sold a technology solution that was a key component to the kind of project.
- A mortgage broker spotted a new builder purchasing existing lots in a incomplete neighborhood development. She got an exclusive referral relationship.
- Numerous stories of how recent legislative changes have opened and closed short-term opportunities for mortgage and insurance brokers.
In addition to direct leads, being knowledgeable of what’s going on the world, and even in sports, can give you the edge in a new sales conversation.
Do you have any stories of sales leads you got from tracking the news? I’d love to hear it in a comment below.
Follow Your Competitors
It sounds like follow-the-leader, which is rarely a good strategy. However, I use this strategy more like a quarterback reading the defense. I want to know where the gaps are so I can throw to the open field. And if everything is covered I like to know where the weakest coverage or my strongest advantage is so I can drive it to my strongest option.
You’re going to have competition. It’s really silly to ignore them. I’ve found over the years, whether they are better or worse than you, they’re still going to feed you leads. Be ready to gather them up.
Online or offline, you need to be meeting and connecting with people constantly.
My online networking strategy is to go broad, test, and then narrow to the most productive. On a monthly basis I’m usually testing one or more social networking channels. I love observing and measuring the sociology of it all and seeing how I can move human behavior. It’s fascinating and highly profitable. In a highly attention saturated market it’s tough to move people in the right direction. I want my market to see the real stuff that can help them or their business–that’s my goal.
[Secret tip: Once I have determined the most effective strategy in these online networks I teach it and have others manage most of the day-to-day engagement. This allows me to scale these less efficient networking venues.]
My offline strategy is similar. The challenge is that it takes your physical presence and that can be highly inefficient. Therefore, my testing is far more critical. I want to find the best events, meetings, and organizations that are target-rich. Then I concentrate on those venues.
[Secret tip: I also leverage others in my offline strategy. Again, as I figure out the venue or it becomes less productive, I will have others manage and maintain our organization’s presence. That way we are still participating, adding value, and gaining value; but it doesn’t always require my personal presence.]
Don’t Forget Local
In the age of the Internet and everyone being connected, local is rich with business opportunity. I’m not talking about Google Local or some other hot topic in online local. I’m talking walking through the door and shaking a hand in your local community.
Sure everyone goes straight to Google when they need a product or service, but what if you had walked through the door a couple of months ago. Right! They would instead say, “Who was that guy or gal that was in here a few weeks ago–I’m gonna find that card and call them.” Or even better, when that person is asked for “Their guy (or gal) for such and such.” They’ll proudly dig out your card and get you a referral because everyone wants to show they’re connected.
Speaking & Writing
This is my bread and butter if you’re willing to put in the effort. It is a long-term strategy, but it is also a long-term money-maker. I get calls and emails daily for folks that have read my stuff or heard me speak. Ironically, most of it is older stuff (I think this might be the Google effect of older stuff ranking higher). However, that’s the magic. Stuff I wrote years ago or a talk I gave months ago is still bringing me a steady flow of conversations and leads.
In addition, it is a rich repository of sales collateral and references for my current sales. Invariably a new prospect will want me to send them something. My archive of blog posts and presentations makes that about a 5 minute exercise.
Talk to me people! What are your favorite sources of new business? Leave a comment and share.