The Green Sheet Online Edition
November 28, 2016 • Issue 16:11:02
It not uncommon for merchant level salespeople (MLSs) to complain periodically of not having enough good leads. In Good Selling!SM: The Basics, Paul H. Green stated that this kind of complaint "often indicates more of a lack of creativity on the part of the salesperson, than a true limitation on the marketplace."
He mentioned one enterprising sales rep with a severely limited market for his product: locomotives. His only customer was Union Pacific Railroad. If anyone could have used the excuse that he didn't have enough leads, this individual could have. "But he didn't," Green said. "He first found his way to small logging companies and eventually to the Santa Fe Railroad."
Green's primary point was that today's business world is teeming with opportunities. The success or failure of an MLS will normally rest on realizing that changes are occurring constantly in personnel, situations and individual sales reps. He elaborated as follows:
- Personnel: A recent study involving hundreds of human resources departments showed that positions are changing at a rate of 50 percent every six months. Note these are positions, not necessarily people. The person you spoke to last year might have been promoted and replaced by someone more receptive to your views and/or product information.
- Situations: Changing policies and procedures or advances in technology may have made your product or service more viable to the prospect's new outlook (such as significant fraud losses during the Christmas season, building a need for check guarantee, or a new POS system that could dramatically increase the prospect's efficiency). Over time, the products and services that you or your company offer will change. Whatever the change may be, the wise salesperson will take advantage of those new opportunities in reviving 'stale' prospects.
- You: Don't forget! You change with time and experience. Surely you're better at what you do than you were six months ago. Your product knowledge has increased as well. Don't let pride stand in your way ‒ try those accounts that slipped through your fingers when you were new. You'll probably be amazed at how much better and stronger your 'net' has become. Fishing for prospects is just like fishing for fish ‒ it requires you to put a line, and sometimes a net, in the water.
You've likely considered lead generation ideas that you haven't yet tried. There's no better time than now to experiment. In "9 Proven Ways to Generate Sales Leads," published on CIO.com in August 2013, Jennifer Lonoff Schiff wrote that when it comes to lead generation, "one method does not fit all."
She suggested a variety of methods for gaining new sales leads, including customer referrals; online pay-per-click advertising and search engine optimization; cross-promotions and co-marketing; providing useful content; speaking at tradeshows, conferences and industry events; using social media such as LinkedIn and Twitter; providing contact information on all pages of your website; and offering live chat.
Another solid source for lead generation ideas is to peruse The Green Sheet's archives. Using the Search function in the left-hand column of our home page, www.greensheet.com, try terms like "lead generation," "sales leads," "prospecting" and others that occur to you. You'll find a wealth of advice at your command. Apply it, and your creativity will soar.
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