Time to implement: Days

Difficulty: Medium

Cost to Implement: Less than $100

If you’re looking to get new customers fast, then you want to focus on a direct marketing strategy that includes personal selling.  If you’re like most small business owners, you’ve done your share of personal selling, and you probably hate it.  But here’s the deal, if you follow a solid process, as described in this article, you’ll find yourself feeling more confident and being more successful.

You Have Immediate Access to New Customers

Everyone in sales is ultimately chasing the same thing: profitable leads. This can be the most frustrating part of being in sales, and inefficiency seems inescapable. Reliably turning cold traffic into promising leads is the holy grail of sales, but it’s incredibly difficult to pull off.

However, salespeople are already sitting on a goldmine of warm prospects just waiting to be brought into the fold. There are three sources you can turn to that have proven to be profitable time after time, and they’ve been right under your nose all along.

Source #1: Your Power Base

Your power base should always be your go-to source for leads. Create your power base by simply writing down every single person you know, from your address book, email or otherwise. Find everyone who likes you, trusts you, or even just knows you. Some might object to this concept because they feel uncomfortable mixing business with their friends and family. Most people who say this are either broke or are trapped in a poverty mentality.

The secret is to approach this powerful inner circle with tact, and not to pressure anyone into anything they don’t want to do.

Once you’ve written down absolutely everyone you know, organize it into your first, second and third circle of friends and acquaintances. Your first circle is comprised of your closest relationships. They know you well, know what you do, and have an 80% chance of buying from you. Those in the second circle kind of know you, and maybe 20% would buy from you. Everyone else goes in the third circle. These are those you don’t know well (yet) and have less than a ten percent chance of buying from you.

Your task is to cultivate your power base and turn as many people as you can into first circle relationships. Start off by calling your first circle and catching up on your relationship. Talk with them about what you’re doing and ask if they know anyone who might be interested in that kind of thing. This is where a good amount of new leads lie since 80% of these people have a chance of buying from you if the timing is right.

Even if they don’t take you up on the offer personally these calls can be a great source of referrals, which you can start bringing into your power base.

Once you’ve called everyone in the first circle, get your second circle on the phone. You don’t know these people as well, so have a similar conversation with them but invite them to have lunch with you. Once you break bread with these people, they’re on their way to being in your first circle. The third circle is your most casual acquaintances and you don’t know them all that well. Send them a postcard saying “Hey there, haven’t spoken in a while and wanted to reach out – let’s do lunch!”.

Let them call you, and when they do you can bring them into your second circle and eventually into your inner circle.

Always develop better and better ties with your power base and watch it turn into your best source of leads. Too many salespeople either forget about their power bases or give up on them.

This is where they fail, as a well-crafted power base is your main source of power. These people are the “who” in the saying it’s not what you know, but who you know that gets you ahead in life. Do everything you can to broaden your base: look for country clubs, tennis clubs, golf clubs, or the best gym or spa in town to increase the quality and quantity of your network.

Source #2: Your Existing Customers

The next best lead source for your sales efforts is your company’s existing lead database or book of business. These customers have already proven their willingness to purchase from you or your company. They already like the company or the brand, and repeat customers are seven times easier to sell to compared to cold traffic.

The truth is that virtually no company on Earth can reliably transmute cold traffic into sales gold time after time. Cold traffic is where most marketing and sales people go for new revenue, but at the end of the day, it’s a wild animal that can never be tamed!

Cold traffic is nearly impossible to understand and always changing, making whatever currently works in marketing quickly outdated.

Mastering cold traffic is the biggest prize there is and every company wants to crack the code, but almost none can do it efficiently. Your valuable time is better spent on more fruitful endeavors. Therefore, turning your sights on those who have already bought will maximize your returns on the time you invest in generating leads.

Consider reaching out to these audiences in a variety of ways. Most customers would love to hear a quick call from the customer service team of a company they recently bought from. It gives you a chance to solicit feedback on how their account is doing and inform them of any new developments or offers. They can also be a fantastic source of new business and referrals, as a customer who feels valued is likely to share your names with others.

Source #3: Smart Outbound Cold Calling

While cold calling gets a bad name, there is value to be found in outbound cold calling. In real estate acquisitions, it’s normal for successful salespeople to cold call fifty realtors every day. Strong relationships are built through communication, and the first step to working new leads into your power base is to get your foot in the door. The key is to not solely rely on cold calling to drive your lead generation, as it takes a lot of effort to get through to a small number of people.

Consider picking up the newspaper (which does in fact still exist) and call companies with ads that relate to your industry, such as looking for contractor advertisements if you sell things to contractors. However, this is a highly niche strategy and will need to adapt to each sales position and industry separately.

Entrepreneur and billionaire Bill Bartmann used to say “If you want to catch a fish, most people would go to the ocean, a river, a lake, or a stream. I say go to a fish farm.” Rather than going through the effort of outfitting a boat with everything necessary to catch an uncertain quantity of fish, go to where you’re guaranteed to come away with an abundance of fish. To work smarter in sales, find the “fish farm” for your niche, and pay something to get inside.

It’s usually worth the cost of admission, and you can take some of the guesswork out of your to-do list.

Maintaining a constant flow of new sales takes skill, but it’s a mistake to think of cold calling as your make or break strategy.

The key to profitable sales leads is to leverage those you already know and supplement with strategic and intelligent cold outreach. Mastering these techniques is critical to becoming an efficient (and profitable) salesperson.