Article #89, January, 2010
"The Green is in the Phone - Start Calling"
No matter what stage you are in with your business, there is always a balance between cash flow generating activities and planting seeds for future sales. If you are struggling to pay the rent every month, the majority of your focus must be on cash flow generating actions.
Generating cash flow can be as easy as giving talks in your community. Getting clients by giving talks can be the easiest, least expensive marketing strategy you employ.
If you have a fear of speaking or are new at it, start with your local library, Kiwanis or Rotary Club. These venues are pretty easy audiences and are also not usually very large. You can also try out new talks there. Part of the reason for these being low pressure gigs is that (in my experience) most professionals get very few or no clients there. So if you totally choke, the impact is minimal.
If you are more confident, call around to your local chamber or chambers of commerce to ask if they bring in outside speakers – that’s a good way to start the conversation. Then you can begin talking about your topics and offering yourself as a speaker.
From there, you need to look for organizations where either your target market gathers (preferable) or where your potential strategic alliances gather. For example, if you provide hospice care, your clients will be caretakers of the terminally ill. You will not typically find them at chamber luncheons.
You could, however, find in-home nursing providers and long-term care insurance salespeople at the chamber. They could certainly refer clients to you.
What other marketing strategies do you or could you employ that might bring you clients fairly quickly? Trade shows? Networking?
But then what do you do?
Once you have given the talk, attended the trade show or joined a networking group, what do you do next?
When giving the talk, it is critical that you gather contact information from the attendees. One easy trick is to conduct a raffle and give away a gift. It is best if the gift relates to your industry. People are more likely to put their cards in the basket if there is a chance they will win something – even if it is just a book.
Even better is to ask the attendees to complete an evaluation with their contact info. Ask them questions about your talk or about them and collect the evaluations at the end of your talk. A raffle is not always necessary, but you will get more responses with it.
For a trade show, you can collect a lot of business cards or contact information at your booth if you offer everyone a free consultation or conduct a raffle. Again, make it related to your industry. To learn more about how to maximize your booth at a trade show, read my article on the topic on my website - number 50.
OK, so you have gathered all this information – what do you do with it?
You know you need to call them, but you just don’t. You don’t pick up the phone. It’s right there – why is this so difficult? Because you are not confident.
Before you even think about calling anyone, you need a plan. What will you say? Write a couple of scripts for what you will say and ask when they answer and when you get the machine. There needs to be a point to the call. Offer a complimentary consultation, free sample or a demonstration of some kind. Whatever you offer needs to benefit the prospect.
PLEASE do not ambush the person by doing something at the appointment other than what you promised, like pitching them on your business opportunity when they are really just interested in your product.
There is much more that goes into this process, but this will get you going. Having a plan with specific steps – gather their information, write your scripts, call for an appointment, have the meeting, follow up with a thank-you email or card, etc. – will give you more confidence. So get on the phone and get that cash flowing!