Often times a conversation with a business owner will start with this question - "can you help me get more leads?" The answer (of course!) is "YES," but in following my own medicine, I never respond with an answer to that question. Why? Because I know that is not the real question that they want answered. It is not the need-behind-the-need -- the true benefit they are seeking.
They, in fact, don't really want more leads. Just like when your gas tank is empty, you may first think that you "want" more gas. But who "wants" gas? It sure doesn't taste good, and I've never met anyone who liked to bathe in it. You don't "want" gas, you "want" to get from location A to location B. There are many ways to get there - you could ride your bike, walk, get a ride from a friend, or think twice about your plan to go from A to B in the first place. Could you accomplish what you "want" with a phone call?
So back to our business owner. Trust me, they don't "want" more leads. They want what they believe the leads will bring them -- more revenue to pay/retain top staff, profit to bring home to their families, less stress, etc.
When I get the "can you help me get more leads" question, I usually respond with a few questions of my own:
- What are you doing to keep your current customers happy and returning to buy from you again and again?
- Do you have your current and past customers, as well as prospects, organized and segmented in a database so you know how to contact them, what they purchased, how often the purchase from you, when they last purchased and how much they spent?
- Do you have a system in place for keeping in touch with your customers to let them know about new products, improvements, changes or additions that might benefit them? How often do you contact them? When was the last time and why?
- What about referrals...do you have a proactive referral-generating system in place that produces measurable and predictable results time after time?
- When the next sale of your product or service is taking place, what steps do you have in your close process to make it attractive - downright compelling - for them to buy more or add different products and services to the order or contract?
- After that transaction, what are you doing to make it attractive for that customer to "come back" sooner than later? Is it possible to subscribe them to an ongoing service?
I think you get the point. Step 2 of the 4 Steps to a More Successful Business is "Maximize the Current." Get the most from your existing customer relationships and the business that is happening as you speak. Five of the Seven Levers to Profit Growth are available to you in this step! Make use of them!
- Increase the number of transactions: present your customers with an offer to do business with you again, create a loyalty program, entice them to get a subscription.
- Increase the average transaction value: up-sell and cross-sell. It helps you customers and you.
- Increase your profit margin: as your business grows, you likely have more leverage with suppliers, may be buying in higher quantities, and may otherwise be able to realize the benefits of scale.
- Generate more referrals from customers: develop systematic ways to encourage customers to refer business to you - happily.
- Extend customer buying lifetime: for one, keep in touch. Surveys show that 85% of people who switch their purchasing allegiance due so simply because they felt their previous provider didn't value their business!
Next week - step back, take a breath, and Set Your Marketing Strategy!