How to Generate Leads without Cold Calling:
- Networking online, over email, and on social media
- Public Speaking
- Writing for publications that your ideal customers read.
- Check again with people who have said no in the past
- Offer incentives to customers for referrals
- Ask for referrals fro people who say no
- Use proactive customer service
You're safe here. You can admit it.
You hate cold calling.
It's okay. We all do.
Whether you're a salesperson, sales manager, or business owner, you likely know that cold calling is not the most efficient use of your resources. But you probably still devote a significant amount of your time, resources, and energy to cold calling.
If you want to get ahead in business, you need to increase sales. Seeing as how sales are so important, why not expand your selling toolbox so that you don't have to rely on unpleasant, inefficient practices?
These seven tactics can help you increase your sales ... without relying on dreaded cold calls.
Even with the internet, email, social media, and advanced tracking software, at the end of the day, business is still the same. It's people buying from people.
Want to make more sales? Get more people to know, like, and trust you.
Unfortunately, most people don't understand how to network effectively. The best way to start a new relationship -- inside or outside of business -- is to ask yourself the following question: "How can I add value to this person's life?" Note that the question is not "How can I add value to this person's life, so that I can get them to help me?"
The best networkers are friendly, outgoing, and willing to help without any expectation of a reward. Does that mean you should let people freeload off you and never ask for anything in return? No. But if you are consistently generous towards others, they will probably be willing to support you when you need it.
Just remember that the value you add shouldn't be conditional. People will probably see through your "help" if you demand something in return. When you freely offer people your help, many will naturally want to help you in return.
If you build value-adding relationships with other people, especially those who would be your ideal customers or clients, you will likely see a dramatic increase in sales. And these sales will come from friends who will offer you their business again and again, because they like, trust, and feel indebted to you.
2) Public Speaking
One of the best ways to get buyers to come to you is to establish yourself as an authority. Public speaking allows you to instantly position yourself as an expert on a particular topic -- and it's not as difficult as you might think.
If you do a good job of networking and adding value, you should be able to find public speaking opportunities. As far as the venue goes, your local public library or community college might be willing to provide you with a room to speak in if you are giving a free, useful presentation. Other opportunities might come from civic or charity organizations and industry events or conferences.
There are a few things to keep in mind before you go the route of public speaking. First of all, when I say public speaking, I'm not talking about giving sales presentations. Your presentation must be useful to your listeners -- whether or not they choose to buy from you. Your listeners should not come away feeling like they just heard a boring sales presentation. Instead, they should feel they were educated on a relevant topic and, preferably, entertained.
Second of all, the topic needs to be something your ideal customers are interested in. For example, if you sell hunting gear, you could talk about how to shoot with better accuracy.
Third, you do need to do your homework. Before you speak about a given topic, make sure you know more about that particular topic than your average prospect knows. You do not need to know everything there is to know -- just more than your audience. Take some time to study up.
Finally, speak loudly and clearly, and articulate your words. When you're speaking to a large group, audience members can't ask you to repeat yourself every time they didn't hear something. If you don't have public speaking experience, you should practice. Record your voice as you speak and then listen to it later and note what you did well and what you need to improve. Another great way to hone your public speaking skills in a nonthreatening environment is through a local Toastmasters chapter.
As you educate your prospects about a relevant topic, you will build authority, and become more widely known to more of your ideal prospects.
Quick tip: Want more people to attend your speeches? Offer them free food.
Writing for publications that your ideal customers read serves a similar function to public speaking. It increases publicity and positions you as an expert. Our whole lives, we are taught to view teachers as authority figures. As a result the easiest way to be viewed as an authority is to become some type of educator.
Submit high-quality articles to either online or print publications that educate your ideal customers or clients. As you build authority through writing, you might eventually create your own blog. The beauty of running your own blog is that you can continue to build up publicity, popularity, and authority through other people's content.
Most bloggers get this wrong. You don't have to do all the work yourself. In fact, it's better if you don't. By publishing other people's articles or videos on your own website, you'll be able to reach a larger audience, and you will be taken more seriously by your readers. A blog is one thing. An comprehensive media site that publishes content from multiple authors is another.
If you want to build authority I recommend a combination of writing, publishing, and public speaking. Writing for other publications is probably the easiest one to start with.
4) People Who Have Said No In The Past
I recently asked a friend if she wanted to see the new Avengers movie with me. For one reason or another, we didn't end up seeing it together. Does that mean she never wants to see a movie with me again? Despite my questionable smell, I'm thinking the answer to that question is no. I'd say there's a fair chance she and I will end up watching a movie together in the future.
Sometimes when people say "No," what they really mean is "Not right now." Maybe a prospect was happy with their supplier until a recent incident. Maybe a customer didn't have the funds to invest in your offering in the past, but they do now. Maybe a client had personal problems that were sapping their time and energy, which are now resolved. If you add value to the lives of others, it makes perfect sense to reach out to people who have said no in the past and see if they might have a different answer for you now.
Reaching out with a simple, friendly phone call is an easy thing to do. And you never know their answer until you ask.
5) Offer Incentives For Referrals
If you do a great job, people will be begging you to refer their friends to you … right? Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. Sometimes people need a little more incentive to help you out.
Hopefully, you know that you should always, always ask satisfied customers for referrals. Seeing as how asking for referrals is one of the easiest ways to increase sales, why not give your customers an extra reason to spread the word to their friends?
Let's face it. For the most part, your customers and clients really don't care about your business or even what you're selling. They just care about what your product can do for them. As a result, many people have one question on their minds when you ask for an introduction: "What's in it for me?"
In many cases the answer is:
- Loss of time
- The risk of upsetting someone
Doesn't sound like a great deal, does it? However, by offering a valuable incentive for referrals, these annoyances can be overcome.
Your referral incentives could be things like:
- Vendor credit
- Plain old cash
One thing I do recommend is to only offer incentives for leads that actually become customers. If you offer incentives for any leads at all, you may find yourself with a bunch of useless prospects that you had to pay good money for.
Referrals are an easy way to increase sales, so why not give your customers an irresistible reason to help you out?
6) Referrals From People Who Say No
Sometimes you're just not going to make the sale. That's just the way it is. Maybe your prospect is stubborn. Maybe you're not convincing enough. Maybe what you're offering is just not the right fit for them. Whatever the reason, sometimes you're going to hear no.
Don't worry. That's nothing to be ashamed of. However, just because your prospect isn't interested doesn't mean they don't know people who are interested. It doesn't hurt to ask.
If you're smart, you will offer incentives for referrals -- whether people buy from you or not.
By the way, if you have a good referral program that profitably brings in new customers, I strongly urge you to not place a cap on the incentives you offer. For example, let's say you charge your clients $1000 a month, and you have a 50% profit margin. That means each client brings in $500 in profit per month.
Now let's say you offer $100 for every new client that someone refers. If you have a very ambitious friend who refers 20 new clients to you, you will owe her $2000. Some people might worry, because that's twice the price you charge a client per month. Some people might even decide they'll only pay $100 for every new client up to a total of five referrals per person. That means you'll never owe someone more than $500 (the net value of one client per month).
Sounds good, right? Wrong! If someone refers 20 new clients you owe them thousands of dollars. But, those 20 new clients are worth a total of $10,000 every month. The last time I checked $10,000 per month is more than a one time payment of $2000. Make sense? That's a serious return on investment right there.
Whether people are clients or not, be generous when offering referral incentives. Don't worry about how much you're giving away -- focus on how much your business is growing. If you think about it the right way, anyone who refers a new customer or client to you in return for an incentive is, in essence, a freelance sales rep. However, the incentive will probably cost a lot less than the commission most sales reps make.
Be generous, offer great incentives, and watch your sales increase rapidly.
7) Proactive Customer Service
Whoever thought it was a good idea to create automatic answering software that allows you to put your customers on hold for half an hour did not understand how business works.
Customer service isn't a business expense. It's an investment. In fact, it's what a business is.
Did you know that 60% of customers claim to often or always pay more for a better service experience? That means a company with great customer service can charge more money for the same products, thus increasing profit margin.
But that's not all. Why settle for great? Why be satisfied with getting more money for one sale, when you can be proactive and get customers to pay good prices over and over again?
Take the time to reach out to new and existing customers. Find ways to genuinely help them. As cheesy as it sounds, make them feel loved. As you stay in close, friendly contact, doors open that lead to more and more sales from the same customers. In fact, it's been reported that loyal customers are worth 10 times more than their original purchase. So why not make them relentlessly loyal (and profitable) by being relentlessly loyal to them?
If you want to grow your business, you need to increase sales. It's as simple as that. Try using these seven tactics to boost sales, so you don't have to rely on unpleasant, inefficient strategies like cold calling.
Isn't it time to step it up and take your business to the next level? Which of these seven sales tactics do you want to try using first? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Originally published Jun 17, 2015 7:00:00 AM, updated September 05 2017