Of Course I have a Referral and Follow Up System!

Date February 9, 2009

A referral and follow up system…  You may be asking yourself what do I need that for?  I was reminded about a pretty well know fact after reading yesterdays post on Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch titled My Most Excellently Flawed Referral Survey.  The survey questions had to do with the percentage of your business coming from referrals or word of mouth.  Here is what John found:

69.3% felt over 50% of their business came by way of referral and yet, 79% further admitted they had no well-defined system to promote referral generation.  The conclusion is we know how important referrals are yet we don’t take the time to create a system to attract them!

John also asked if you are not getting a consistent flow of referrals why not?  20% of the participants of the survey just skipped this question!  Maybe after realizing so much business comes from referrals and acknowledging they have no system that thinking about why was just too much must for those in the survey to handle?

For years I have heard and seen similar numbers like this.  Business owners and top sales professionals say things like the live for referrals yet if I ask the simple question of what do you do when you receive a referral I more often than not get a blank stare.

Receiving more referrals is pretty simple and there are many ways to do this.

  • Simply asking your customers for referrals or people they know who can also use your product or service is a great place to start.
  • Making sure you acknowledge and reward the referral senders will naturally grow the amount of referrals you receive.  People will enjoy helping you and when you acknowledge and appreciate them and will in turn help you more.
  • Staying top of mind with your customers, prospects, and referral sources will generate more business and referrals for you.  You can do this by calling, emailing, sending greeting cards, and newsletters.  Staying top of mind is customers and prospects is about creating a relationship.

The best referral and follow up system I have seen and used for years is SendOutCards.  When used correctly you can create an explosion of referrals with very little effort.  The reason for this is SendOutCards is a great system and once set up can go on autopilot.  You can learn more about SendOutCards and how it might work for you by visiting this site.  Fill out the contact information and I will call and talk to you about it personally.

Whether you use index cards, Excel, Outlook, SendOutCards, Act!, Goldmine, Saleceforce.com, or any of the many other CRM tools on the market the important thing is you use one.  Commit to a system, spend the time to get it set up to work for your business, and then use it no matter what!  The benefits of using your referral and follow up system will outweigh any time or pain you might feel getting it started!

So tell me, what system do you have?  What are you doing to increase your referrals and follow up with your clients and prospects?

Create a Strong WHY to Achieve Your Goals

Date February 8, 2009

I last talked about how creating a strong WHY is an important step in your follow up and sales success.  The why is a fantastic motivator to push you to make one more call, mail one more thank you card, or follow up with one more prospect.

Last week the importance of a powerful why kept coming up as I had many discussions regarding this concept with colleagues, clients, and prospects.  Over and over again this was part of my conversation in my meetings, from private conversations, conference calls, and even when I was conducting a training for a group of entrepreneurs.  Today I decided to share a small part of my why which is what really keeps me going at a pace that seems to baffle some of my closest friends.

My main WHY, goal, purpose of my life, reason why I do what I do be stated in one sentence, one I Am statement, one vision:

I am positively effecting the lives of millions of people through humanitarian projects I personally create, fund, or participate in.

This is the main reason why I do what I do, the reason I make a few extra calls when I want to stop working for the day, the reason why I keep going, pushing, and working towards all the other goals I have.  My why makes all the day to day things seem small, it makes any negatives neutral, it makes disappointments last moments instead of days, weeks, or months.  It is what keeps me on my path.

As I am writing I am thinking about how my why is already becoming a reality.  It has been happening for years and it seems every year I am getting closer and closer to achieving my why.  From building homes in Mexico, supporting micro banking and water projects through Rotary and Kiva, or working on my newest cause the Global Hug Tour, MY WHY is happening!  This year alone being a part of the Global Hug Tour team will allow me to touch the lives of over 100,000 people in a positive way.  The local projects funded by the Global Hug Tour can easily impact 10, 20, or 50 thousand additional lives.

I hope you understand why I decided to share this with you today.  My hope is by sharing my why you will think about yours and by really identifying yours you will have all the success you desire!

Please take a moment and tell us about your why or how this post has inspired you to take action in creating a powerful why by leaving a comment.

To learn more about the Global Hug Tour please take a look at the website and if you are on Facebook please support the tour by becoming a fan!

John Assaraf on the Power of Why

Date January 29, 2009

This week I had the great opportunity to meet will John Assaraf to discuss the Global Hug Tour, a great new cause inspired by Gail Goodwin from Inspire Me Today.  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss how John and his company One Coach might play a role in the tour.

During our meeting we had a conversation about the why behind the Global Hug Tour.  John was very passionate about having a strong why.  If your why is strong enough then the how will become clear.  The Global Hug Tour is a huge project with many moving parts which seem to be growing bigger with each day.  The important part of this project is everything is coming together.  Because the why is so strong it allows the how to truly present itself in the form of people stepping up to play a role, people buying hugs to support the tour, and both private and corporate sponsors taking a big interest in supporting the tour.

Bringing this back to follow up…  How does having a great why help you in follow up?  Follow up is one of those things we all know we should do!  Having a great why will help you take the action steps like following up to achieve your desired goal.  Your goal might be additional sales, revenue, customers, or referrals, whatever your goal is make sure you have a powerful why to keep you on track!

For anyone who may not know, John Assaraf is the founder of One Coach, was in the wildly successful movie The Secret and his current book The Answer: Grow Any Business, Achieve Financial Freedom, and Live an Extraordinary Life is a New York Times Best Seller.

Zappos Pays Employees to Quit!

Date January 15, 2009

There was a great article in the current Inc. Magazine titled The Ultimate Business Tune-Up For Times Like These.

The article listed 23 things you can do right now to energize your employees, wow your customers, and get your business back on track.  One of the ideas from a previous Inc. Start-Up Blog post was from a great company Zappos titled Pay employees to Quit!

During the first month of training, Zappos offers new employees $2,000 to quit, plus their time worked!  This may sound crazy but to Zappos it’s a matter of costs…  The cost of training an employee who is not happy or does not fit the company culture is far more than $2,000!  Zappos wants people who are passionate about customer service and who love their company culture.

I know for me I am always attracted to companies who seem to have a passion for what they are doing.  If I receive a follow up call from a new contact or someone who wants me to purchase their product I listen for the passion.  How many times have you purchased from someone just because you felt inspired to support them?  Have you ever been price shopping for a product and found a sales person or company who was so passionate that you decided to stop looking and just purchase?  Do you see how valuable passion could be for you?

So if passion is so important to a company like Zappos it might be something you should consider as well.  Whether you are an employee or the owner of a business or an entrepreneur passion is one of your best assets.   Why not take a look at how you are doing in regards to passion.  You might just find an opportunity to light the fire of passion within you!

LinkedIn: Great Follow Up Tool or Complete Waste of Time?

Date January 7, 2009

One simple question I ask every new contact at some point during our first meeting…  So are you on LinkedIn?  The answer to this question can be very surprising!  I have heard everything from “No, Yes, What is LinkedIn?, LinkedIn?  What a complete waste of time!, I think I am on LinkedIn, I get invites but just ignore them, or I am on LinkedIn but don’t know how to use it.”

So is LinkedIn one of the most powerful sales and follow up tools available or is it just a complete waste of time?  I know for myself LinkedIn has proven to be a very powerful tool for connecting to new prospects, passing referrals, and keeping top of mind with clients and prospects.

The opportunities on LinkedIn are extensive!  In fact I just wrote a post on Square Martini Media titled 7 Top Reasons LinkedIn is a Must Have for Your Business.  This is a must read article to learn why you should be using LinkedIn!

So what are you waiting for?  Set up a LinkedIn account or find your password and get ready to learn some simple ideas to help you attract more clients and increase your sales using LinkedIn!  Over the next few weeks I will going over the 7 Top Reasons LinkedIn is a Must Have for Your Business.  When you find that password or set up your new account make sure to invite me to your network!

Are you a Gary Vaynerchuk?

Date January 2, 2009

Have you ever met someone who is filled with passion and enthusiasm?  Passionate about their company, passionate about their job, passionate about their relationship,  or possibly passionate about their cause…  I mean real passion!  So much passion and enthusiasm you might think it’s too much!  This reminds me of one of the people I followed up with from LinkedIn this week.  Lisa Marshall a communication specialist, speaker, and at one time accused of being too passionate!  Lisa’s thoughts on this… “It is impossible to be too passionate”!  I have to agree with her!  Have you ever seen or heard Gary Vaynerchuk speak?  Did you have the thought “I wish I was as passionate as Gary Vaynerchuk”?  View a portion of this video with Gary Vaynerchuk speaking at Web 2.0 Expo this year.

Do you see the passion coming from Gary?  Do you feel his enthusiasm for what he is doing?  Are you thinking to yourself “I wish I was this passionate about something”?  The thought in your mind should not be I wish I was… It should be why not?  Why not live with the same passion and enthusiasm that Gary does?  What is stopping you from doing this?  The difference between living and believing with passion versus not is so dramatic!  People who have passion and enthusiasm are like magnets.  People want to be around passionate people!

Many times I have been told to tone down my passion and enthusiasm…  I admit at times I have thought this was some kind of flaw and for years I would always keep myself in check.  Now I realize this is one of my biggest assets.  I love to get behind something I truly believe in with passion.  Lots of passion!  You can be passionate about your job, company, product, spouse, or your favorite cause.  Find something in your life to be passionate about and then share with those around you.

So my last thought to you is if you have ever thought “I wish I could be as passionate as (fill in the blank), why not start now…  Passion is something you can turn on and turn off..  Passion is a love for what you are doing or what you believe in.  Passion is the one thing that will push you forward and keep you going, passion insures you reach your end goal.  Passion is one of the elements of those who achieve greatness and those who do not.  Passion is in you…  It’s in all of us…  We just need to recognize it, feel it, and let it run through us.

Top 10 List of Books To Help Your Clients Kickoff a Fabulous 2009

Date December 29, 2008

So here we find ourselves past the holiday season.   We now have a great opportunity to make a positive impression on our top clients and referral sources!  Sending books to top clients and referral sources is one of the most memorable follow up strategies I use. It’s creative, different, and is just not done enough!  The following are my Top 10 books to send to a business owner or top sales professional for 2009.  In choosing this selection I found myself thinking of the many types of clients and referral sources i have.  This selection should include a great title for any possible business owner or sales professional which may be on your list.

#1 The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino

“At last!  A book on sales and salesmanship that can be read and enjoyed by veteran and recruit alike!  I have just completed The Greatest Salesman in the World for the second time-it was too good for just one reading-and in all sincerity, I say that it is the most readable, most constructive and most useful instrument for the teaching of sales as a profession that I have ever read.” F.W.Errigo, Manager U.S. Sales Training Parke, Davis & Company

#2 Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
“At American billionaire Andrew Carnegie’s bidding, Hill studied the characteristics of these achievers and developed 15 “laws” of success intended to be applied by anybody to achieve success. Think and Grow Rich! condenses these laws further and provides the reader with 13 principles in the form of a philosophy of personal achievement.” Wikipedia

#3 Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
“Rich Dad Poor Dad is a starting point for anyone looking to gain control of their financial future.” USA Today

#4 The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
“Fascinating enough for the general reader, Gladwell’s work is a particular boon for businesspeople looking for inspiration on how to top their own ideas into popular crazes.” Publishers Weekly

#5 The 8th Habit by Stephen Covey
“An absolute must-read for aspiring business executives who want to significantly increase their personal effectiveness in the workplace and at home.  Covey has created a brilliant blueprint for both career and personal success in the new millennium.”  Douglas Conant, President and CEO, Campbell Soup Co.

#6 Tribes by Seth Godin

“Tribes is a must read for all of us.  It’s up to each one of us to lead in today’s new kind of world.”  Bill Bradley, Former U.S. senator  Tribes is one of my favorite reads of 2008!  It’s is truly inspiring, showing the value and simplicity of becoming a leader.  Keep an eye out for my future post on Tribes.

#7 Beach Money by Jordan Adler

“If you plan on building a large successful network, I recommend reading Beach Money.  Jordan’s stories are inspiring and each one has something that you can put to use immediately.”  Ivan Misner, NY Times Best-selling Author and Founder of BNI

#8 E-Myth by Michael Gerber
“The mythic and often disastrous assumption is that people who are experts regarding technical details of a product or service will also be experts at running that sort of business.  Many small business owners eventually realize that just as they had to learn the technical skills, they have to learn business growth and management skills.”  Wikipedia

#9 Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting by Lynn Grabhorn

“I can’t believe it.  In the three months since reading this, I’ve almost doubled my sales and settled a couple of long-standing problem in my marriage.  I’m recommending this book to management.” O. T., Regional Sales Manager

#10 The Four Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss
“Stunning and amazing, from mini-retirements to outsourcing your life, it’s all here.  Whether you’re a wage slave or Fortune 500 CEO, this book will change your life!”  Phil Town, #1 New Your Times bestselling author

#11 101 Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies by Gwen Steege
Number 11 in my top 10 just to check and see if you are still reading!  Honestly the best gift and easiest way to bribe me is with homemade chocolate chip cookies!  Who can resist that?

I could have easily listed 20 more books in this top 10 so if I am missing one you think should be on the list please leave a comment with your suggestion and why you think the book should be on the list.  The more selection and recommendations the better!

In writing this post I kept thinking back to my corporate career.  During the holidays I would receive well over 20 boxes of candies from clients and vendors.  The candy made no lasting impression due to the amount I received.  A book is completely different!  If I received a book during the first few weeks of the New Year it would stand out amongst all the previous gifts.  I would remember who sent the book to me and it would positively affect our relationship.

Follow Up Strategies: Two Days Before Christmas

Date December 23, 2008

This morning I had a completely different post in mind.  I was going to write about sending books to your top clients and referral sources for the New Year.  In thinking about follow up this morning I decided to write about a simple and highly effective follow up strategy for the two days before Christmas.

Take a look at your top 25 clients and referral sources for the year, print out a report or simply write them down.  Once you have them pick up the phone and call each one.  Call them and wish them a Merry Christmas.  If you are not sure if they celebrate Christmas wish them a Happy Holliday weekend.  Thank these clients and referral sources for the business and referrals from the past year.  Ask them what they are doing for the holiday.  In general you want to touch them right before the holiday.  Don’t ask for new business or referrals, just thank them and wish them a great holiday.

You may not be able to reach everyone as I am sure some have already taken the week off, so just leave a message or a voicemail.  It may seem simple because it is!  These simple touches build your relationships with your clients and referral sources.  By doing this simple task you are showing your clients and referral sources that you care about them and appreciate them.

It’s a bit difficult for me to call you and wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday weekend!  Please know that I appreciate you for taking the time to visit my blog and I truly appreciate the many emails and comments I receive from my posts.  I wish for you a wonderful holiday filled with great moments which create lasting memories.

Do You Still Need to Send Your Holiday Cards?

Date December 12, 2008

You still have time to get this important follow up strategy completed!  However at this point you are a bit limited on how you can get this done.  One way is to make a mad rush to the store and buy boxes of holiday cards only to spend today and most of the weekend writing them out.  I must say the thought of you actually doing thing is making me tired!  I know as I have done this so many times in the past!  I am sure if you have not yet sent your holiday cards you know you need to and have just been procrastinating to the very last minute!

Don’t worry!  You have another option available to you which will allow you to send all of your holiday cards within a few hours.  Whether you need to send 100 or 2,000 holiday cards you still have time to get it done!  It all starts with having access to a powerful system called SendOutCards!

SendOutCards is a very simple online tool which allows you to upload all of your addresses, choose a holiday card from over 1,000 choices, type out a nice holiday message, and with a few clicks send to your entire database!  Your cards are then printed, stuffed in envelopes with a real stamp, and placed in the mail the next day! The best part is you can actually send the same holiday card to 500 customers and prospects and then go back and write additional messages to your top 25 customers and prospects to make them more personal.  This means no customer or prospect is forgotten!  SendOutCards also allows you to add gifts to your cards!  So if you should be sending a little something extra to those top clients you are covered!  To learn more about this tool visit SendOutCards and click on the top banner to send a free card and get the tour.

There is just no other service on the market that can do this with such ease!  I have used this service for the past few years for holiday cards as well as all the different business greeting card occasions with great success.  This is not just a holiday card tool!

If you happen to be one of those thinking “it’s too late to send holiday cards at this point” or “does sending holiday cards really make a difference in my business?”, I would encourage you to consider recent research by Hallmark:  Hallmark found that businesses say they use greeting cards as a “kind of investment in their business…  They’re investing in customer relationship with the hopes that it will pay back”.  The company has conducted research that found at least half of customers who received holiday cards from businesses say they are more likely to continue doing business with that company versus another one.  You can read more on this by reading the article in the Washington Post.

So the question to ask yourself is not whether you should send holiday cards or not…  The question is whether you want your current customers to continue doing business with you!

Holiday Follow Up: Greeting Cards, Postcards, and E-cards

Date December 11, 2008

Today you have many choices when it comes to holiday cards.  The choice of holiday greeting cards is enormous, and we cannot forget holiday letters, postcards, and e-cards.  As business owners and sales professionals what are the best practices?  In my opinion, holiday greeting cards should be your only choice!

Holiday cards: You have many options here!  Sure you can go to your local Hallmark store or grocery store to pick up your greeting cards.  In fast the top two greeting card companies Hallmark and American Greetings which print most of the greeting cards on the market would love for you to do just that!  It’s fairly simple, find a greeting card selection which will reflect your business in a good light, lock yourself in your office for the day and get to work!

Holiday letters: I have already received a few holiday letters from friends and businesses.  These are nice and typically very personal when coming from friends and family.  I would not recommend these for a business greeting.  Sending a gift with a letter is a pretty common practice but in my opinion if you are spending the time and money to send a gift why not include a greeting card as well?  Skip the basic form letter and add a personal note to a greeting card instead.

Holiday Postcards: Thinking this is a great cost saving alternative to mailing holiday cards is a big mistake. When I think of postcards the first thought that comes to mind is junk mail.  It does not matter how much time you put into your postcard design or the amazing copy you have come up with, in the end it’s just a postcard and it will leave a neutral or negative impression.

E-cards: The crazy popularity of e-cards has come and gone.  Some may say this is a great alternative to sending holiday greeting cards in the mail.  I would encourage you to consider the conversation I had with Jeff Hans real estate agent on Team-Q at Re/Max Realty.  Jeff mentioned a conversation he had with another business owner just last week.  The business owner asked if he had received his e-card.  Jeff had to think about it for a minute and then acknowledged he had received it.  The business owner asked what Jeff thought and his response was the following: “I receive over 200 emails per day so receiving your e-card was just another email”.  Jeff suggested that next year he mail holiday greeting cards instead of sending e-cards!

My last thought for your holiday cards choices.  I mentioned the top two greeting card companies Hallmark and American Greetings so I thought I should mention the greeting card company I have used for my holiday cards, birthday cards, thank you cards, and just everyday cards for the last two years.  The company is called SendOutCards and it just so happens SendOutCards is the number three greeting card company.

I think the most important thing to remember is to get your holiday cards out.  It is by far the easiest follow up touch you can do this week and with each follow up touch you do you increase the awareness your customers and prospects have with you.  This increased awareness will result in increased business and referrals!