Sunday, December 23, 2007

Canvassing for business

Canvassing for business

Some pro-clo benefit from quality leads through their company marketing departments, some do not. Whichever is the case, a pro-clo is always on the hunt for leads which could generate new business. Here are some ideas that I have always found rewarding.

Hit’ em again Sam
The best source of new business is repeat business from existing customers, so let’s start first of all concentrating on the existing customers/owners list.

1.Seek out referral business from existing customers. Simply pick up the phone and say something on the lines of: ‘Listen, Jim, things are a little slow around here and I was wondering if you might be able to help me out. Can you think of anybody who might be interested in……? They’ll help you!
2.Market survey existing customers. Find out if they are happy, what if anything would they change and, most important, how long they anticipate it will be before they renew or replace. Every product or service has a lifespan – once you determine what it is, for example, three years, contact all customers who are approaching the three-year mark.
3.Contact existing customers whenever you have something new, e.g. new brochure, new price list, new product, new discount or sale, new data, new advanced formula, whatever.
4.Almost every business has an after-sales department that deals with customer complaints, replacement, parts, repairs and services. Your own service or complaints department can provide you with some excellent leads. Customers with problems are worth their weight in gold!
5.Contact the used to be customers the once that all the other salespeople give up on as no-hopers, even if they’re not in your area.
6.Take on any customer that another salesperson doesn’t want. There are always some that the losers want to get rid of, or give away.

The one that got away
As your customer list continues to grow, so will your repeat business. The next avenue for thought and then ground work is the list of the nearly was or could have beens.’

7.Contact all the old enquiries, the ‘could have beens’. These folk obviously had some sparks of interest once. Why not try to rekindle that interest?
8.Get hold off all the company’s cancellations, the nearly was list. Most of these ex-customers bought and wobbled because they didn’t have a pro-clo like you to service them and to consolidate the deal.
9.Swap your dead leads with those of a colleague or competitor.

From a gentle stream to a mighty flowing river
Then there are endless different lead sources right on your doorstep. They are like ripe fruit on a tree at harvest-time –one gentle little tug and they are yours for the talking.

10.Advertise in every newsagent’s window in your area. If you figure conservatively that each newsagent has 1,000 customers per week and there are 50 newsagents in your area- That’s a potential 50,000 prospects reading your advert for around 10 per week. Don’t just use your business card or a normal postcard; use something that is eye-catching like a testimonial letter from an existing customer.
11. Do the same with each post office window, your local garages, video store and the corner shop.

12.Browse through your local newspaper regularly, there are always hundreds of potential leads looking you in the face. For example, when Mr. John Johnson from the street in Any town raises 1,000 for charity by parachuting from a plane- find his address from the telephone book. Write congratulating him on his performance and enclose your business card, should he ever be interested in medical or life insurance. Get the idea?

13.Canvass potential customers from your Yellow pages or Thomson Local.

14.Every public library in the land has on its shelves trade magazines and publications, business directories and company names / addresses, etc, offering a wealth of possibilities. There are also guides to almost everything imaginable. For example, if you sell salt and pepper pots, than you’ll find guides to hotels, restaurants, public houses, nursing homes, youth hostels, bed and breakfast outlets – the list is endless.
15. Advertise on the notice boards of the local council offices, community centers, town hall, health and leisure club, the golf club, and so on.
16. Do some cold calling. There is nothing like knocking on a few doors to get the adrenalin pumping. Yes, you get a lot of rejection but you also get success around to per cent of the time. If you tell the ‘cold calls’ that you’re in the area and will be calling on such a day or a certain evening (drop a leaflet or brochure through the door), your success rate will be lot higher than to per cent. Ask the Avon lady.
17. Organize an exchange programmed with another business (not a competitor) who sells to the same kind of customers you do. As an example, let’s take the home improvements industry. Here there is a huge mass of potentially compatible customers from companies of potentially compatible customers form companies that sell such things as double glazing, kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, conservatories, security systems water purifiers, cable television, driveways, patios, textured wall –coating, and so on. You should contact a likely company and arrange to exchange leads or customer lists, like for like.
18. Arrange a direct mail shot or a leaflet drop.
19. Your local estate agents know the names and addresses of hundreds of people who have just moved into new homes. If you sell windows or carpets or water filters or paint, if you sell kitchens or bathrooms or bedrooms or conservatories etc. – maybe it might be worth your while to cross the estate agent’s palm with silver, if business should be generated form any leads he gives you.
It doesn’t stop with estate agents-plumbers know people who need a new washing machine, mechanics know customers who are talking about a new car and vest know of people who are in the market for a new dog. Be creative!
20. Don’t send Christmas cards, send calendars. They don’t have to be
expensive or have to be expensive or have a different picture for each
month as long as they are attractive and presentable. Every calendar should
have your name, your company and your telephone numbers on display in
a prominent position. It will be a constant daily reminder, for the next
twelve months, that you are there for them should they want to upgrade
add on replace, or send referrals. For the best impact and the best results,
make your calendar a personal gift.

There are many other ways of canvassing to generate new business, but to be effective, and be prepared to put in lots of hard work and determined effort. Here is a little story that demonstrates being creative, talking the initiative and making a determined effort to canvass my business.

Although I wasn’t in any hurry, I‘d been considering for some time making a small conversion to a part of our home and so I applied for planning permission. My intention was to save time when I eventually decided to go ahead and have the work done. I didn’t realize that my application went on public display at the council offices, but over the next few weeks I received a total of seventeen letters from builders offering their services, builder’s merchants pushing their wares, a couple of money-lenders selling finance and even a letter from a company who sold drapery.

At first I was impressed at the imitative these companies had shown in an attempt to canvass my business, but when I looked more closely. I saw a different picture. Only four of the seventeen letters had been signed by their author. The rest were either photocopied signatures informing me it was a standard letter, or they weren’t signed at all, or they had been signed ‘pp’ followed by an illegible scribble. Fifteen of the letters were addressed to Dear Sir, Dear Occupier, or Dear (Space) and six of them said ‘date as postmark’.

Only two of the seventeen had bothered to write to me personally, dated their letter and signed it with ink, of those two only one letter was from a builder, the other was from the draper.
I couldn’t help but wonder how many of those seventeen companies would give me the service that I would want. My guess was, only two. As I have explained, I wasn’t in any hurry, so I didn’t respond to any of the letters. Instead, I just sat on them.
Of those original seventeen, only one bothered to contact me again. Guess which builder it was, and guess who my business.

The moral of this story is, you must be professional and be personal and you must follow up to follow through we are now about to move on and look at the actual sales process, but before we do let’s have a quick refresher.

Step 11 Use ingenuity to pull your customer, not push him.
Step 12 Do your homework and you’ll reap the rewards
Step 13 Canvass, canvass, canvass then follow up to follow through.

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