Are you a business owner experiencing a "slow" period? Maybe your business began with a bang and suddenly your profits have stagnated. Or are you an established entrepreneur looking to expand your business, but the stretch business that you anticipated just hasn’t materialized?
These are more common scenarios than you might imagine, and there is a reason for it. You may be hearing other business owners blame the current economy, or perhaps you might be asking yourself if people out there actually need what you sell. I can promise you that if you know you are truly selling a valuable product or service, customers DO need what you sell.
So let’s begin at the foundation of the sales cycle: GENERATING LEADS. All businesses, including yours, must have a steady flow of new leads to maintain or increase business profitability. The challenge is that most business owners are so focused on making the sale and tracking those trends and numbers, they forget to keep priming the pump with new leads. An effective lead generation strategy truly is the answer to turning around slow or stagnant sales in your business.
Leads. What are they really? To me, they are the golden secret to successful business. While it is important to track your lead numbers, first I would challenge you to consider leads as something more than things you count or tally marks on corner of a summary sheet. The real value in leads is to understand that you are creating relationships as you are generating the leads. Treat generating a lead with the same care, respect and value as you would in building a relationship with a new friend – and in the process, make that new friend a customer. Truly, there is nothing more valuable in business than generating leads, especially if your focus includes a “from your heart” perspective rather than just using business smarts techniques from your head. And when you put your focus on cultivating those LEAD RELATIONSHIPS, the sales you seek will come more naturally.
The second aspect of generating leads is to know your numbers. You might be asking yourself questions like: What number of leads should I be aiming for? How many leads do I need in a week or a month? How do I estimate the number of leads needed to generate one sale? These are great questions to ask, and I've found many business owners struggle with answering these questions. The important thing to know is that there actually IS a "magic number" of leads you want to generate each week. This is true no matter what business you are in. And knowing the "magic number" is the key to your business success.
The third key point for generating leads is to incorporate referrals into your lead generation process. You've heard the term referral before, but you might not always know how critical referrals are to your business and building your lead bank. At least half of business owners I talk to very much want referrals, yet they never ask for them. Remember this tip - for every lead you cultivate into a client, there are secondary leads to consider – offer your clients an incentive for providing you referrals from the set of people they know. These referrals open the path to a new set of leads for you!
Another great way to add contacts to your lead bank is to attend networking group events. Earlier this month, for example, I attended a meeting of New Lawrenceville, a local networking group that is expertly led by Rodney Camren. I can’t stress enough how important it is to be connected to your community through networking groups like New Lawrenceville as it allows you to get involved in your community and with other owners of small and medium size businesses in your region. Not only do I love the positive energy, friendly people and the opportunity to give back to the community, but I am also thrilled with the results. From the July networking event alone, I was invited to eight other networking events and asked to speak at three of the meetings. In just eight days, I increased my lead bank by 134 new leads. Now that is a POSITIVE result to my leads bank from networking.
In summary, to make it through a slow period or to expand your business to grow your bottom line, here are a few simple guidelines to follow:
• Focus on generating leads and building relationships, and the sales will follow.
• Know your numbers. Set new lead goals to meet your magic number and grow your lead bank to generate new sales.
• Ask your clients for referrals, and then treat every referral like the golden opportunity it is. Always follow through with the contact.
• Attend networking events every opportunity you get. You never know how many new doors will be opened for you at these events.
A focus on leads will give your business a boost in sales and cause the profit growth you are expecting to see. When you put your focus on leads rather than just the sales, there is absolutely no doubt you will experience the success in business that you've wanted to achieve.
Author Celeste Giordano is a member of New Lawrenceville and a Business Development Strategist. A master sales strategist, speaker, business coach and consultant, Celeste's mission is to help business owners and fellow coaches learn to develop the direct sales and network marketing skills, knowledge, and attitude necessary to "double-plus" their income and become effective and inspirational leaders in their own fields. Visit Celeste’s web page at http://www.celestegiordano.com and sign up for the monthly ezine. If you would like a complimentary 30 minute call with Celeste, please call 888-692-6170 to schedule an appointment.
This article is sponsored by New Lawrenceville. New Lawrenceville is a FREE networking organization of businesses and volunteers that are working to bring community together.
Thank you to August 2014 New Lawrenceville media sponsors -