Welcome to your “Oh Shit” moment. The causes are predictable; you’ve lost a big customer or a big customer has decided to take advantage of some “interest-free” money on your small business back and not pay you for 120 days.
After some screaming, freaking out and a few nights of lost sleep, you decide that your best bet is to take matters into your own hands and fill that sales pipeline — find new, better customers and find them fast.
When there’s no time for fancy marketing that takes precious time and money, here are a few things you can do to generate that desperately needed cash infusion.
Don’t Be Desperate When You Want to Get Customers
The first step in not being desperate is to not talk or act like you’re desperate. People have radar for desperation. They can smell it and they will run away from it. This is easier said than done and it’s absolutely necessary. Do these things to eliminate the veil of desperation from your sales and marketing process:
- Put your thoughts and focus on how great you’re going to feel when you fill this pipeline. There’s no point in lying to yourself about your current situation, AND there’s no need to focus on it either. Instead, focus on and visualize the positive outcome of your efforts. Whenever defeating or frightening thoughts pop up (and they will — like ever 3 seconds) say to yourself “Thanks for the reminder and now I’m going to focus on how great it’s going to feel to fill my pipeline with awesome new customers!”
- Act as if you are. Even if you’re not going anywhere that day and have no appointments, BE that successful business owner you envisioned after your pipeline is filled. Get up, shower, look your best, literally ACT as your future self (the one with a full sales pipeline and positive cashflow).
- Put yourself on a pedestal. This goes along with acting as if you are. Don’t think for even a second that giving your time or services away will bring you new customers. Don’t dream of dropping your prices and stop being available every minute of the day. These are all behaviors that tell people that you are desperate. Behave as if your business is booked, you are in high demand and you simply don’t know how you can take on any more orders.
Desperation kills deals and puts you in a situation that you will regret and resent later. Don’t take on customers who are not ideal just because you are desperate. Instead, focus your energy on finding and building ideal customers with whom you’d like to have relationships for many years.
Get Customers By Going to Where They Are
Look, trolling LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to build relationships is all good and can be efficient, but when you’re desperate for new customers, you need to take more direct action. This is a sort of “Zag when others Zig” strategy. When most people are selling online, you go IRL (In Real Life). Get out there and hit the pavement and go door-to-door. Follow these tips to set yourself up for success:
- Treat it like a game. Here’s the deal. You don’t want to go door-to-door because you are seeing yourself as “desperate” or as a “sleazy salesperson”. That’s silly, just change how you see yourself. Instead of being desperate for sales, choose to be desperate to help people who have a problem that you are solving. It’s like you’re on a “missing customer” mission to find those people for whom you are a Godsend. It’s a number’s game and you’ll soon see a pattern i.e. for every 10 people you see, 1 will choose you. This is 10x the conversion rate of most online campaigns!
- Focus on the specific problem that you solve for customers; remove viruses from computers, clean offices, deliver meals, write emails, etc. Your goal isn’t to sell them the world, your goal is to get money coming in. Pick one small thing you can do quickly and easily that provides value and solves an immediate problem, then deliver it. For inspiration, check out Fiverr — these are all online services, but you’ll see how immediate they are. Once you’ve delivered on something small, upsell them to something bigger.
- Identify a target-rich environment of customers — such as an industrial park or office building.
- Pick a day to go there.
- Set a goal. Decide that you will NOT leave until you’ve visited 20 businesses and offered them help. You can also choose to do at least one floor, one building or one office park or 2 hours. Whatever is appropriate, but give yourself a goal that will push you toward action.
- Measure your results. Like any game, try to beat your score and get to the next level.
- Don’t make it mean ANYTHING. Treat this like a sales and marketing experiment. Don’t take anything personally, don’t make it mean anything, just keep following the process. I promise you will see results.
Ask for Referrals to Get New Customers
While you’re out there knocking on doors, there’s a good chance you’re going to run into folks who don’t have anything you can do for them — don’t forget to ASK them if they know someone who has the problem that you’re solving and if they could refer you. That’s one way to turn those “No’s” into “Yeses”
On the days that you aren’t out there knocking on doors, tap into your referral network. This is a great time to hit your LinkedIn and Facebook connections. Reach out individually to people – don’t post something publicly. Send them a private note that says something like
“Hi (Name) –I need your help. It’s been a long time since we’ve chatted. You know how it goes; you’ve been busy, I’ve been busy and now, I’ve hit a bump that I was hoping you can help me with. Is there a way we can chat for about 30 minutes?”
Woah! That was super direct! I know. I get a ton of mealy-mouthed emails that beat around the bush about what’s happening. People want to help in any way they can and this is a super easy ask. Reach out to your friends, family and close business associates privately, tell them what’s up and they will absolutely do their best to help.
Enroll Your Employees To Help You Get Customers
If you have a business with full-time, part-time or even freelance employees or team members and get them involved in the “get out the customer” campaign.
- Don’t underestimate your employees. Bring everyone together and explain the situation.
- Be the leader and set a powerful context. Instead of whining and freaking out, position this as an opportunity for the company to recruit and help more ideal customers.
- Invite volunteers to help with getting new customers. Don’t force employees to participate, rather, invite them to play a pivotal role in growing the business.
- Provide generous rewards. This is no time to be cheap. Provide an insane reward, something that inspires employees to participate. Depending on your business model, you can reward employees with a really high commission on the sale such as 30% or 50%. This wouldn’t be forever, but it would be for a fixed period of time to fill the funnel. Another possible reward could be paid vacation time or a generous bonus.
The point of this strategy is to get employees involved, engaged and sharing in the rewards of the team’s efforts.
You Can Do This
You have a choice to make, are you going to sit there, whine and be the victim, worry and complain? Or are you going to use this circumstance as an opportunity to get focused on what really matters, to be bigger and stronger than you’ve known yourself to be.
You can do this. All of these tips come from personal experience and having to face choices that I didn’t like. The tips I’ve shared have all come from my personal need to overcome my insecurities, shyness, and laziness. Been there. Done that. You can do it too.