If you’re finding it difficult, awkward or just not very productive to make sales calls during this pandemic and recovery, you are certainly not alone. But there are other ways to generate sales – including starting and running a ‘lead machine,’ one of my favorite strategies under all conditions.
A lead machine is a small networking group that you form composed of other vendors who serve the same customers that you do. The purpose of the group is to look for opportunities to introduce each other to clients you’re working with who need related services.
Here is an example of a lead machine in action:
- Say you’re a small online graphic design agency, and your client is planning a new website. You ask if they have settled on a vendor.
- If not, you tell them that you have an associate in the business who they might like to meet.
- You mention that they have worked with a number of your clients – and everyone has been very happy with their helpfulness, their pricing, and the quality of their work – and you share a couple of examples with them.
- Say that your colleague would be happy to walk them through the things they need to know, and the questions they need to ask, in planning their website, and provide them with an initial estimate.
- You would emphasize that this is a free service they provide…that’s there’s no obligation, and that it could be very helpful to them if they plan to shop around.
- If your client would like to move forward you introduce them – in person, by phone, or email or videoconference, etc., and away they go.
- Many such introductions lead to sales, and you thank each other by continuing to look for more opportunities to introduce your colleagues in the same way.
Key to success: Think of the process as a value-adding service to your customers
While forming a lead machine group is obviously good for your business (and your colleagues) you need to treat this process first and foremost as a value-adding service to your customers. So I repeat, only work with people you can trust, without question, to treat your clients well. Your aim is to help clients as they prepare to start shopping – or save them from having to shop at all – by introducing them to someone they will likely feel comfortable doing business with.
There are multiple benefits
This is an example of what I call ‘organic’ marketing, where we grow our businesses with and through our past and present clients, and our networks – without the toxic stress of old fashioned prospecting and selling – and without the costly ‘fertilizer’ of paid advertising. There are many benefits including:
- The result is a win-win-win solution that produces sales without old fashioned selling – while enhancing your level of service to your customer.
- When you are introduced by a colleague, the client rarely displays the sales resistance that you normally encounter.
- This can dramatically raise your sales closing ratio, which means more sales with less selling.
- When you’re introduced to someone whose project is underway, there’s little doubt that they are ready to buy. These prospective customers are the most highly qualified you can imagine – saving you from having to generate many leads in order to identify even a few that are ready to go. Again, this can dramatically raise your closing ratio.
- There is none of the discomfort associated with calling on people who don’t know you, or haven’t been introduced to you.
- You could save your client from a lot of grief if they went shopping on their own, and bought from the wrong vendor.
Key steps in starting and running your lead machine
- Make a list of non-competing vendors who sell to the same audience as you.
- Using our example, if you were a graphic design studio, you might list a web developer, a digital marketing agency, a photographer, a videographer, a professional copywriter, and so on.
- Think hard about who to list. Do you know their work personally? Would you trust them to work on your own project? Do they have a proven track record for customer satisfaction? Will they offer to meet your clients on an educational basis, understanding that prospects may feel compelled to comparison shop?
- Contact the people on your list; explain your idea, ask your questions, and invite them to a live or virtual get together – and away you go.
The key to your success in forming and running a lead machine will be perseverance. It can take time and effort to find and recruit the right members—and to follow through. But the rewards will be worth the effort when you begin to receive introductions to fully qualified buyers who have been told—by someone they trust—that you are worth speaking to as they plan their purchase or project. In effect, they are pre-sold on the benefits of buying from you. The result: More sales, with less selling!
Special Note: Our new edition of “The Business Owners Survival Guide” is now available.
The new 2020 Coronavirus Edition delivers 40 pages of the best ideas developed during my 35 years of turnaround work with small and mid-size companies in crisis. This edition is published as a PDF file, so you will receive an immediate download. My promise as always: No filler and no fluff. Just 40 pages of hard hitting ideas you can choose from, tweak, and apply immediately.
When you receive your copy, please print it out, and use the spaces at bottom of each page to make note of ideas that catch your attention, or that you come up with while reading. Then prioritize your ideas and write up specific action steps that you will take. This will help you turn the raw material of ideas into the finished product of things that actually get done. Please see below for topic highlights and ordering. Enjoy!