There is an old saying "If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there." The following 11 step process is a road map for identifying, tracking and landing new business. Unfortunately I can't do justice to the process in one article but I hopefully will provide you with a good overview. In my seminars and workshops I have found this process helpful to many small business owners. Seeing the big picture of new business development, recognizing areas of missed opportunities and assisting in the elimination of that overwhelming feeling can move an entrepreneur to utilize the many marketing tools available to increase their business.
Warning: Do not expect to do this all yourself. Consider a family member or friend to help. An administrative assistant is a worthwhile investment, if you can afford it. Make sure they want to do the job and they understand your business.
1. Goal Setting - Pick a dollar figure you wish to attain for the year. Make it realistic. A desired salary is a good starting point. A financial goal is needed to help work out how much business must be conducted.
2. Prospect List - There are many places to acquire prospect lists. You usually have to purchase them but not always. Remember, you get what you pay for. Get lists from list brokers, associations, magazines, networking groups, Chamber of Commerce, and other companies with similar target groups to yours. You tend to pay more money for newer more accurate and more specific information.
3. Qualifying Prospect Call - No matter where you get a list or prospect name you must do 2 things. Check the accuracy of the information and make sure this contact is in fact the real prospect. Do Not Try To Sell Over The Phone at this stage.
4. Database - Take the prospect information out of the shoebox and put the information onto a database. There are many inexpensive contact management software packages available. They will make your prospecting 10 times more efficient and effective.
5. Lead Generation Package - No cold calls. Before you make a contact with a prospect send out a lead generation package. This could be a post card or letter or simple flyer. Printed and mailed is better than faxing. All you want to do is whet their appetite. Tell them a little about your product or service. Who you are, what you do, why you are different.
6. Lead Generation Follow-up Call - Make sure they have seen your lead generation piece. Determine if they can use your product or service. Do Not Try To Sell Over The Phone at this stage. Set a meeting; put a face to a name for your benefit and for theirs. (If your product or service lends itself to telephone sales and it is not cost effective to meet in person, go ahead with the sell.)
7. (A) Interested or Immediate Need - This means you will need to have a first meeting/presentation.
(B) No Need - Track them with follow-up calls, newsletters etc. If they have no need now, they may need you in the future or this contact may move on and be replaced.
8. Meeting Presentation Package - You are not going in to do a huge elaborate presentation; because you don't know what they need yet. Remember, your job is to find out what they need. Rule for first meetings is 80% listening and 20% talking. You may also, at this time, introduce some additional information on your company.
9. Proposal - Could be in written form and sent in or preferably presented in person. Either way you have a limited amount of attention from your audience. When in person you have a limited amount of physical time. Ask how long you have before you get there. Avoid unnecessary background, review the opportunity and get to the point quickly. Backup data and more information on your company can be included in the written proposal. If the audience wants to know more they will ask or review it later.
10. (A) First Job - Congratulations, remember it is an opportunity to prove yourself, don't blow it. Follow-up make sure everything went well. Many unhappy customers won't tell you. They just stop calling.
(B) No Immediate Need - Track prospect send newsletters etc. Circumstances change. Your job is to get on their shopping list, preferably at the top.
11. Ongoing Relationship - Introduce new products/or services keep in touch. It's your responsibility to stay top of mind with them. Out of Sight Out of Mind.