Category Archives: sales

How to Create a High Quality, Targeted Lead-Generation Machine

Lead-generation is one of the steps in the sales process many businesses struggle with. Here are some effective and not-so-effective ways to pull prospects into your business.

List brokers are helpful but not all brokers are created equal. Not all lists are equal.

Some brokers sell information that is not useful.  They give you what you ask for but it’s old and out of date.  Or they may sell you information for which they are paid the highest commission from the company that actually owns the list.

There are three types of lists
1. Compiled lists – based on attributes (Demographics like age, zip code, marital status, mortgage amount). These are the least expensive but they are also the least responsive.

2. Response lists – purchasers of similar services/products. These lists include actual buyers.  If you’ve ever purchased products from a catalog, you’ve probably noticed that you started receiving catalogs from other, similar companies. Someone sold your name because you demonstrated that you spend money in certain areas. It indicates you’re likely to do it again.

These lists are more responsive to related offers and therefore are more expensive to buy.

The downside with these types of lists is that they are generally sold as one-time-mailing lists. The brokers embed a few “test” people with addresses that secretly go to them. So if you try to use the lists again, the brokers will know and likely charge you a penalty.

3. House lists
The best list is one you have compiled from your own customers, prospects, certain contacts in your social networks, visitors to your website.

The key here is that you must COLLECT these contacts and compile them into a list so you can follow up with them.  It’s rare that people plunk down a substantial amount of money on your table the very first time they encounter you.

However, When you cultivate the relationship by consistently offering value and staying top of mind, they are more likely to purchase from you rather than your competition when they are ready.

This is where the machine kicks in.
1. Drive traffic to your website or blog. Use SEO or create organic (FREE) traffic through article and video marketing.

2. Have a COMPELLING way to collect the contact information from your visitors.

3. Create an automated follow-up system for these visitors as well as people you’ve met through other venues (so long as they’ve agreed)

4. Use your follow up system to build credibility, trust and create relationship with them. Then periodically and over time, introduce them to and give them opportunities to buy from you.

When you automate your process, you’ll create a lead generation machine.  When you focus on creating value with those leads, helping them solve problems and demonstrating your expertise, you’ll be able to convert your leads into sales.

7 Steps to an Endless Stream of Prospects and Clients

1.  Create long-term and short-term goals
It’s important to know the big picture of where you’re trying to take your life and business.  Without that, you’ll lack the motivation to get through the tough spots and do the things that scare you the most. You also need to know the NEXT STEPS you need to do RIGHT NOW to make progress toward that big goal.

2.  Determine where you’re leaving money on the table
If you don’t know why you’re not raking in the dough, you have to analyze your business sales process and figure out what the problem is. Do you not have enough people to talk to?  Are you not reaching out to the ones you know? Are they not willing to talk to you? When you do speak with them, do they say “No” or worse yet, put off  the decision to do business with you? If you don’t know the problem, the solutions you come up with probably won’t work.

3.  Identify the most effective marketing strategies for you to capture that money

There are tons of ways to marketing your business. If you try to do all of them, you’ll end up feeling overwhelmed and frustrated.  Pick a few (three or four) to focus on over a short, concentrated time frame.  They might include networking, speaking or blogging. These will get you visibility with your target audience if you select the right venues or platforms.

4.  Develop a concise list of actions to take to promote your business and take them
Nothing beats planning like taking action. Analysis and planning have their place, but in order to make progress, you have to DO SOMETHING. Consistently. Even when you’re afraid.

5.  Create the tools you have been missing that prevent you for effectively marketing yourself
You probably have legitimate ‘excuses’ for why you’re not taking action.  Perhaps you can’t follow up with people because it seems like too much work and you’re not organized enough to pull it off.  If that’s the case, you might need a follow up system to help.  This might require starting a database of the people you come in contact with that you want to and having preset messages you can customize and send to them.  This will make it infinitely easier for you and you won’t feel like you’re starting from scratch every time.

6.  Track your results
Most people don’t do this but it’s critical.  You have to be able to look back and see how productive you really are.  How many prospect/sales calls did you make yesterday?  You’ve probably heard the expression, ‘What gets measured, gets managed. What gets managed, improves.’  So start measuring and tracking your actions.

7.  Get support to stay on track
When you’re in business for yourself, there is generally no one holding you accountable for growing your business.  Your customers are holding you accountable, but it’s for their benefit in making sure you deliver on what you promised them.  If you have a team, you should definitely include them in the planning process and keep lines of communication open during service delivery.  But if you’re the boss, few of them will have the courage to manage you since you hold the purse strings to their future. Plus, you’ll probably not want to reveal to your employees all of your fears, concerns and trepidations. So find someone outside of your organization who will support you in staying on track.  This could include a mastermind group, a mentor, coach or consultant of some kind who understands enough of where you’re going and what you’re doing to provide some insight and prodding when you most need it.

When you implement these 7 steps on a consistent basis, you’ll find that you attract the right opportunities and take the actions necessary to seize them and succeed.

4 Quick Questions that Generate Sales

Most service professionals I know struggle with holding productive sales conversations.  They either avoid them altogether and never get close to the sale or blab so much about what they offer, that they turn people off and lose the deal anyway.

The key is to get your prospects talking so they convince themselves that you are the perfect solution to their problems. And the way to get them talking is by asking them questions designed to reveal their hopes and dreams and obstacles to their success. It is through skillful questioning that many a fortune are made.

My friend Lynn Hennessy, owner of a highly successful insurance agency, has her team using 4 simple questions with great success.  Lynn learned them from Marvelous Marvin LeBlanc, The Cajun Trainavator.

They are similar to the questions I use, but so short and crisp, I had to ask if I could share them with you, so here they are!

1.  When it comes to (insert your product or service), what do you currently have?

2.  What do you like about it?

3.  What do you dislike?

4.  What do you want instead?

Your prospect has now just laid out a roadmap for you to engage them in a conversation that is relevant for them about what you have to offer and how it can address their needs (only if it legitimately does, of course).

Leading with these questions won’t guarantee you close the sale, but I’ll bet your closing ratio will go up.  So try them out and let me know.

How to Gain More Sales Through Referrals

I’ve been coaching a lot of financial advisors lately on building their book of business by leveraging the power of referrals.  Referred prospects make faster decisions and do more business than prospects through any other marketing strategy.

I LOVE referrals…and I get a lot of them.

The problem for most business owners is that they’re afraid to ask for fear of seeming pushy or needy.  Colleagues are afraid to provide them because they don’t trust you enough to not jeopardize their relationships in their network.

So what’s a business owner to do?

When we’re in a slow economy, people are naturally hesitant and leery of making major investments.  If you’ve found yourself making lots of offers but getting few of them accepted, you’re not alone. The problem may not be that what you have to offer isn’t valuable.

It may be that your approach is off.

Referrals could be the key to your recovery.  Referred sales take less work. They close faster. They bring in more money.  And if you know the secret to leveraging them, they can pull you right out of this financial doldrum most of the world is trapped in.

Here are the 5 steps, R.E.F.E.R. to getting all the referrals you can muster.

1. Recruit
It’s important to identify the right referral partners.  These might be good clients or colleagues who sell non-competing products or services to your target market.

2. Educate
In order to alleviate that “I’m-not-sure-I-want-to-endorse-you” hesitation, you have to properly orient your referral partners.  They need to know not only what products and services you offer but how you’re going to treat their colleagues when you meet them. They have to feel confident that you’re not going to embarrass them or irritate the person they’re connecting you with.

3. Facilitate
Many people believe that giving you the name, phone number and email of a prospect is all that it takes.  In fact, that’s the weakest kind of referral you can ever get.  It’s better than a cold call for sure, but not strong enough to oversome the reluctance people have to meeting unknown sales people.

You want your colleague to talk to the prospect on your behalf and ‘grease the  slide’ for you before  you ever contact them.

4. Engage
Meeting your new prospect for the first time is a sensitive and delicate ocassion.  If you blow it, the relationship could be over for good. And you could be jeopardizing your relationship with the person you already know. You have to make sure your new prospect is comfortable meeting with you and minimize their discomfort and fear that you’re going to take advantage of them.

5. Reward
Once you’ve met with the prospect, whether or not they buy from you, it’s important to properly thank the person who made the introduction. Thanking them can take many forms.  The choice of how you show your appreciation should be commensurate with the business opportunity you had.  It should also be personal enough that your friend or colleague knows that you gave this gratitude process some thought and didn’t just send them the exact same thing you’d give to everyone.

Sure, you can have a canned referral program but unless your standard gifts are whopper, super-duper items, they won’t have long lasting motivational impact.  Gifts don’t have to be expensive, just tailored and thoughtful.

Follow this 5-part system consistently and you’re pipeline will be packed with prospects clamoring to do business with you.

Do You Relate to Your Business Like It’s a Slot Machine? 5 Steps for Increased Sales, Revenue & Profits

Having spent the weekend in Las Vegas, I had a chance to engage in one of my favorite forms of Las Vegas entertainment, playing the penny and quarter slot machines.

I just about doubled my modest $25 ‘investment’ and kept myself thoroughly entertained for a couple of hours. By Las Vegas standards, that was a good ROI.

It got me wondering about the allure of slot machines.  I think it has to do with the suspense of the ‘hunt’ and the thrill of the win. It’s a similar dynamic.

“How do I find my best prospects?”


“What does it take to win them over?”

If you treat your business like it’s a slot machine though, you could be suffering from some serious problems.slotmachine6

1. Feeling like you’re not in control
2. Trying lots of strategies but unsure which ones will really work
3. Worried about if and when your big payout is going to happen

Here are 5 ways to win at business and improve your sales, revenue and profitability.

1. Focus on your core strengths

Many people suffer from the I-have-lots-of-strengths-interests-and-abilities syndrome.  I grapple with this one sometimes myself.  You may find that you’re afraid to focus because you’re worried you’ll be leaving dollars on the table.

Actually, the opposite is true.  The more you focus, the easier it is for people who need you to find you.  So define what you do best and organize your business around that.

2. Know who you best serve

Similarly, many of my clients are reluctant to select a target market thinking that they’ll make less money if they don’t do everything all of the prospects in the world need.  Again, not true. Trying to serve to many people will keep you scattered, spreading your efforts too thin.

It’s easier to find specific groups of people and it’s easier to market and sell to them because you can say all of the right things that will grab their attention.

3. Listen to your clients & prospects

In order to grab their attention, you have to be speaking their language and this requires that you know what they’re talking about.  A lot of business owners make the mistake of creating products and services JUST because they’re good at it without knowing if the market is at all interested.

4. Understand their pain

When you listen deeply to your prospects and clients, you can learn what keeps them up at night.

You’ll get a visceral experience of how they’re suffering and where you can help.  You can better empathize with them and show your concern for their situation in a more authentic way.

5. Offer solutions to conquer their pain

Once you know the things you excel in, who most needs you and what their problems are, you’ll be able to offer them the perfect antidote to their dilemma and they will thank you for it while eagerly snapping up your products and services.

When you follow these 5 steps, you’ll be more strategic about your business, you’ll stop dropping coins in any random slot machine and your payout of more and bigger sales will just happen naturally.