What is the value of our current customers? In sales it seems we are always striving to get the next customer… So much of our time and effort is spent towards new customers. As sales professionals we do many things to get the next customer or client. Our sales cycle could be hours, days, months, or even years. All of this work just to get the next new customer.
And then it happens! We win the next contract, get the new client, win over our newest customer. Depending on what you are selling you may or may not have some role with this new customer , possibly in training, roll out, or just insuring the sale is complete. At some point our new sale is finished. You are done, the sale is final, and hopefully you have been paid, only to move on to do the cycle all over again. Spend all that time and energy to get the next new customer again.
So that’s it! Let’s move on to the next customer! Right? Wrong! Who is more important to follow up with? New leads, old leads, or existing customers? Existing customers! Don’t get me wrong, you always need to have a constant flow of new customers. My point is the customers you already have are a great resource for new ones! John Jantsch from Duct Tape Marketing talks about this in his article What’s Your Referral Number? John suggests creating a percentage baseline for the number of clients referring business to you. Finding this number will allow you to improve on your processes so you can achieve the maximum referrals from your clients. Following up with your current customers will not only help you with your customer retention, it will also lead you to new customers. Why not start tomorrow by calling 10 customers you have not spoken to in the last 30 days. Just check in with them and see how they are doing. Make sure they are happy with your product or service. Ask them if you can do anything for them. It shows great customer service and you might just receive a referral to your next new client!
Remember the time you focus on your current customers will allow you to attract new clients with ease. Sometimes the all alluring next new client is right in front of you! All you need to do if followup, stay engaged, and build on the relationship you have already created.
Yesterday I talked about the value of networking and how it can be so much more than just business, contacts, and referrals. Each day you are given the opportunity to meet and connect with new people. Last night as my friend and I walked into his surprise 50th birthday party I had a great feeling. How cool was it for him to stroll into what he thought was going to be a small gathering of people and to his surprise see 100 of his closest friends, clients, and family. It was a great time full of laughs, food, and of course cake! Throughout the evening more people seemed to be stopping in. I knew a few of these people but many I did not. Everyone knew my friend, everyone knew, liked, and trusted him. Seeing all these people celebrating in my friend’s birthday reminded of the Law of 250.
What is the law of 250? The law of 250 has been talked about my many of the best marketers including Joe Girard. Girard is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s Greatest Salesman. World’s Greatest Salesman, there has got to be something to be learned from him! Girard sold more cars than 95% of all the dealerships in North America. He did this not just for one year but for 10 plus years! How did Joe do it? Girard believed in the law of 250 and knew if he could get everybody he made contact with to refer him into their network of friends, family, and colleagues that he could multiply his marketing efforts by 250. Michael McLaughlin the coauthor of Guerrilla Marketing for Consultants, trusted advice on successful consulting from the authors of the bestselling Guerrilla Marketing series goes in more depth on the law of 250 in his Guerrilla Consulting blog.
Everyone one of us have close friends in our life. If it was your 50th birthday who would you invite to attend? Who would you want to celebrate with? These are the people who are in your network of 250. These are the people that know, like, and trust you. You have a choice with each new person you meet; you can count them as one or invest in the relationship and tap into 250.
Friday night I spent some time at a good friend’s house. My friend is turning 50 today and I have been tasked with keeping him out of the house while his wife gets things ready for a small gathering of friends. Still not sure what I am going to do for three hours but I am confident we can figure out something!
This morning I was thinking about where this friendship started. We first met through a networking group called LeTip. Each week we saw each other for a few hours and then would go on to the rest of our day. Early on we chatted and he let me know someone he knew represented my company and if he decided to use my service he would use them. I mention this because I really had written this person off in regards to networking. I was still nice, talked to him, and looked for ways to refer him, but I had zero expectations of ever receiving referrals or business from him.
Networking for me is not about what I can get from someone, it is about what I can give. Each time you give someone a referral, help someone through a business challenge, or connect two contacts together without expecting anything in return you are giving. Ivan Misner the founder of BNI often talks about this with his givers gain philosophy. The theory here is if you are always looking for ways to support your network then in turn your network will support you with business, contacts, and referrals. Ivan also talks about this in his new book The 29% Solution, 52 Weekly Networking Success Strategies in week 5 and has a recent article about the book on his Networking Now blog on entrepreneur.com.
I really live this givers gain philosophy in all areas of my life. So many examples of wonderful things coming to me when I have least expected it. One of them is the lifelong friend who I have the pleasure in celebrating his life and birthday today.
This morning I was up very early and decided I wanted a cup of coffee. My first thought was to take a quick shower, grab my laptop, and head over to my local Starbucks. As I was getting out of bed I realized I wanted something different… I really just wanted to enjoy a cup of coffee outside in the cool morning air. Some of you reading this may know I am a goal oriented, multi tasking, crazy scheduled, always going in multiple directions type of person so getting ready and starting my day running is pretty normal for me.
Something about this morning, at this moment was a bit different… I was looking for a different approach or a different experience this morning. It hit me… where is that French Press that I used to love making coffee with? As I entered my kitchen in search for my lost press I started to remember why I love it! Boiling the water, grinding the coffee, pouring the hot water over the coffee, letting it sit for a few minutes, finally pressing the plunger down to pour my perfect cup of coffee. Sitting outside I realized why I love this process so much.
So what the heck does this have to do with followup and why would I post my morning coffee experience here? Well as I was sipping my coffee listening to the morning sounds I realized how the process of my morning cup of coffee is very similar to the process of followup. It’s not always about the quick cup of coffee or the quick meeting of a new prospect. It’s about the process! When I take the time to really get to know a person, learning about them and their business, I get to enjoy the result.
Following up and building relationships is just like making the perfect cup of coffee. When we take the time and go through the entire process we can enjoy the result.
Tomorrow is the start to a brand new week. I might just start with another perfect cup of coffee.
I know some of you are thinking to yourself “I already met the person at the networking event, followed up with an email, and sent a greeting card!” So why should I meet with the person again? I will admit, I have had some success meeting someone at a networking event and then actually doing business with them shortly after without this step.
It seems to me professionals attending a networking event are mostly looking to meet new contacts. The hope is this new contact will either give them or lead them to new business. Is it really reasonable to think you will gain new business or a new contact that will lead you to your next big customer from a casual five minute conversation? I look at this first interaction as the first stepping stone on the path of the business relationship. The next stone on the path is meeting again in person or on the phone.
So how do you get the second meeting? Simply call your new contact and let them know you want to add them to your referral network. Learning more about their business and talking to them more about your business will lead you both to referrals. Let the new contact know the goal of this meeting is to add them to your network and in order to do that you want to know more about them.
From this meeting you will find out more about their business, who their ideal client is, their existing referral partners, and most importantly how you can refer them.
This should seem obvious but to be quite honest I am shocked at how few follow up greeting cards or hand written notes I receive. Many of our great leaders, top businesses owners, and world renowned sales trainers talk about the hand written note or greeting card. Keith Ferrazzi talks about the power of following up with a hand written note in his national bestselling book Never Eat Alone. Take a moment and think about the last 30 days… How many networking events have you attended? Is the number one, five, or possibly twenty? How many greeting cards, hand written notes, or even postcards have you received from these new contacts?
Think about this… Almost every day I am in a meeting, conference call, or just talking to another business owner and one of the following statements comes up. “Can you believe this economy? No one is buying anything!”, “My business is down, people are just not buying anymore”, “I don’t understand, my customers are not calling me.”
In a business environment where a lot of sales professionals and businesses are struggling (real or imagined) why are some having record sales? If two remodeling builders are in the same major city like New York, Los Angeles, or Dallas why is one having explosive growth while the other is closing down? Could it be the growing business is really lucky and the other is not? Could one have a stronger pool of customers or possibly amazing sales people?
Or maybe it is just a slight edge and a different mindset? Maybe they do something just a little different.. Maybe the business with explosive growth are just following up! Imagine where you or your business would be today if you consistently followed up using a simple greeting card or note…