Thinking about starting a home business? Probably the hardest task for a new business is getting those first few clients or customers. One of the problems is that most home business owners are not savvy in marketing and hate the idea of doing “sales calls,” therefore many struggle to get enough clients. Generating business and clients takes a lot of time, but the process can be speeded up by learning how to prospect and guide customers towards a sale or becoming a regular client. It is reality that many prospects do not say yes on first contact with you, so you need to develop a plan to stay in touch with them until they are ready to buy. Here are four useful strategies to use:
1. Make sure that you zero in on your target market: Make sure that you identify who might want what you are offering and are able to pay for it, anyone else is a waste of your time and money. It is not enough to send your message out into the world and hope that it will stick. Defining your most likely client by a number of criteria applicable to your business, makes it easier to find them and to send messages to entice them to check out your product
2. Build a potential customer and client list: Just as you need a guest list for a party, you need a client list in order to have a business.
- Start by making a list of personal contacts for quick and easy sales, then ask these people to recommend you to their friends and contacts.
- Call back to your existing customers for resales, it is easier to sell to an existing happy customer than to find new ones.
- Offer referral incentives to current customers
- Search out potential customers on the internet and use social media such as Linked in. Participate in Trade Shows or Craft Fairs, these events are good for networking with other businesses that might fit your market. You can also generate new customers by exhibiting your work. Even if you don’t make a sale you will probably be able to build your contact list.
- Join your local Chamber of Commerce and network with other businesses in your area. Join groups involving your target market and attend workshops that might help you to build your business.
- Purchase a lead list, however this can be expensive and usually achieves low results, but if you are in a bind this is an option. If you do a Google search for mailing lists, you will find lots of companies to reach out to.
3. Make personal contact with your prospective client:
- Cold calling scares most people but it the best way to contact clients to ask them what they need and tell them what you can do for them. Prepare yourself by writing an easy flowing conversational script to introduce your product or reason for calling. Remember telling is not selling so don’t do all the talking. Ask questions and present the benefits of your product so that the focus of the call is on the customer. End your call with a call to action, such as asking them to commit to a trial period, or get an email or physical address so that you can send them more information. If they say they are not interested ask if they know anyone who might be and get a referral.
- Email: while not as effective as a direct conversation it is less scary and a good way to introduce yourself. Do not send just a “buy” email, instead offer something of value. Give an explanation of who you are and provide a coupon or other incentive. Make sure that you include an unsubscribe option in accordance with anti-spam laws.
- In-person: Make an appointment to meet a prospect on your list or walk into their business. You can often meet prospects while you are out and about in places such as grocery stores or coffee shops. You should always tailor your presentation to how you can meet their needs and have sales material on hand such as brochures or samples. End your meeting with a call to action or promise to follow-up.
- Traditional Mail: Similar to email snail mail is not the most effective way to get sales but it is a great way to increase awareness of your business. Create a postcard, brochure or letter and send it yourself or hire a fulfillment house to do it for you if you have a large volume. Don’t forget that a personally placed stamp makes the item look less like junk mail.
4. Follow-up then follow-up again: When you meet with prospective customers, you will probably hear NO a lot. Sometimes it is a firm no, but it could be a no, for now. 80% of sales are not made on the first contact or the second or even the third contact, it may take more that to make the sale. It is important to set up a non-annoying system of follow-up, such as an email list or an agreement to call back in a period of time.
You must keep track of all your communications and there are many free CRM databases available on line that you can use. Create calendar reminders to follow-up on your phone. It is important to build a relationship with your prospective clients which will hopefully lead to a sale.
From an article by Mindy Lilyquist