November 2012
Column
AutomatedBuildings.com

Daikin Integration to BACnet, Modbus, KNX, WIFI, Mobile Apps
Intesis

(Click Message to Learn More)


Looking for leads in all the right places

Some business development hints to grow a customer base

Manny MandrusiakManny Mandrusiak
Managing Creative Consultant,
4 Bravo Marketing

Contributing Editor
 



Articles
Interviews
Releases
New Products
Reviews
Blue Ridge Technologies
Editorial
Events
Sponsors
Site Search
Newsletters
Cube
Archives
Past Issues
Home
Editors
eDucation
Belimo
Training
Links
Software
Subscribe
Distech Controls

Every business wants more customers to come through their door and their phones to ring off the hook with orders.  This is the problem that sales and marketing professionals deal with on a daily basis, and there are many different ways to solve the problem of increasing a company’s customer base. In this month’s column I’ll examine some tips and techniques to not only develop new perspective clients, but also to produce higher quality leads for any business.

The inspiration from this column comes from a conversation that my sister and I had during one of our weekly dinners together at the pub.  She was telling me about a friend of hers who is an investment broker and had thought up an awesome new way to meet new customers and grow her business.  She set up a bar on her lawn to cheer on and support a local marathon’s runners as they finished a local qualifying race for the Boston marathon. Her house was located just beyond the finish line of the race, and from past experience she knew that the race attracted a lot of participants and fans.  The plan was that to get a beverage all someone had to do was give her their contact details so that she could send them a follow-up email for her services.

I generally applaud any effort that an individual puts forward to attempt to increase their business but this one raised questions immediately:

  1. Location, location, location.  Are you set up in a location to actually meet potential customers, or is this activity going to cost more money that it returns?
  1. Even though there would be a great many people supporting the race, are they really the target for her services? Did she know who her target client was?
  1. Was the event one that attracted potential customers?
  1. What was the actual return on the emails that she sent out?

Ultimately she collected over 200 names and emails with the prospect of no potential business coming from it, even after follow-up phone calls and emails.  It simply was a matter of the venue not being suited for gathering new leads. The people there were either running in the race, or cheering on runners. None were in the mindset or mood to really discuss an investment portfolio.

Many companies and businesses run into a similar problem.  They get overwhelmed with the thought of hunting for new business, expanding their contact base, and generating new leads.  That’s why they hire sales and marketing folks who are passionate about generating quality leads.  A company that makes temperature sensors is not going to show up at the local Bridal show looking for business.  That company would:

  1. Know exactly what business they were in.
  1. Know exactly who their customer and potential customer is.
  1. Know where to start looking for these customers.
  1. Know that they must engage customers, and potential customers to draw them further down the contact funnel.

Note – To view the contact funnel article that I wrote back in June 2011 read “Is a lead by any other name still a lead?”.

Control Solutions, Inc With that in mind, here are some tips for growing a customer base to increase any company’s business:

  1. Look for a return on investment – When undertaking any type of event or participation at a trade show is the question “What will I get for my money?” When I used to run technology training events for the OPC Foundation and PI North America I took great pains to look at filling the room with the most qualified people that I could so that the vendors that paid money for exhibition tables got as good a return for their money as I could provide them.  I made every attempt to fill the room with people who were purchasers (could actually make the decision to purchase software and hardware that the vendors sold), influencers (people who had input on project bids and the ability to influence the buying decision), and the potential (the individual who may not be a customer today, but will be in the future). When the right people are in the room it becomes easy for sales reps to do what they do best –sell. I conducted a show in New York for PI North America where I had over 130 qualified people in attendance.  The best part of the show was having reps from Softing and Pepperl + Fuchs excited about selling software at the event. 
  1. Network! – Everyone knows the value of having friends. Joining a Chamber of Commerce or an industrial automation consortium, like the OPC Foundation, provides an opportunity to make business contacts. In the digital age that we live in a service like LinkedIn can provide exactly the same type of networking.  By joining groups, and participating in discussion groups, a company can expand their social network and business contacts.  It is an extremely powerful tool and very easy to use.  A fantastic and economical way to generate more contacts that are in your industry vertical.
  1. Buy a contact list – In the past I have used list brokers and industrial automation magazines to increase my contact base through the use of a list rental.  Sending a targeted email through these lists can be a great way to attract people to an event, webcast, or trade show. Another great tool that I still use for purchasing new contacts is www.jigsaw.com (now data.com Contacts by Jigsaw).  This unique website provides a great interface where users can search for contacts by using a variety of filters.  Location, industry, age etc.  I like it because it provides me with the ability to test new markets and ideas. The contacts that you purchase can sometimes be a little pricy, but you get to keep all the contact data as soon as you purchase it.  This makes it easy to send an email and provide a follow-up phone call quickly.   List rentals never provide you with the contact data, data.com does.  Great for growing new business.
  1. Talks with your current customers – When doing follow-up phone calls ask your current clients for their recommendations about calling or emailing their friends.  This is again a great feature for social media.  People love to be engaged through social media, and it is extremely easy to establish a contest where your customers enter for a prize by referring a friend for you to contact.  Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are built on the principle of growing networks.  That works extremely well for companies looking to increase their customer base.  In the social media circle it is not always who you know, but how you know them.  LinkedIn will show users the ranking of the contact that you are connecting with and lets users see how you are connected.  If I am trying to increase my contact base and I am connected to a well-known figure in a particular company I gain credibility with his connections. Easily increasing the odds of moving a contact down the contact funnel.
  1. Nostalgia often works – I recently received a post card in the mail shaped like a pizza with the phrase “Do not eat” on the front.  It was a unique shape and the clever content caught my eye. I ended up checking it out, and found a place that makes incredible gourmet pizza.  I try to go once a week for a slice.  Sometimes looking at some more creative marketing ideas can never hurt.  When was the last time your office received a fax invitation to an event?  I have even seen a postal mailing containing a small wooden glider with a very clever letter advertising promotional products.  Everyone I showed the glider to thought that it was awesome and wanted to know what company sent it.  The letter contained a link to request your own glider for free.  Simply fill out the contact form.  A cool spin on an opt-in to an email list.  I still receive emails from that company and have used them several times.  Never dismiss an idea because it seems dated.  As long as you can justify the return on your investment, why not give it a shot.  Of course a campaign like that requires a targeted email list to send to, so see point three for advice on buying lists.

As I said at the beginning of this article there are many ways to grow a customer base and gain new business. The most important thing is to have someone doing it for your company that is passionate about lead generation for your business.  That passion will result in higher quality contacts, and a larger pool of potential contacts which can be grown into future business.
 


footer

Haystack Connect 2015
[Click Banner To Learn More]

[Home Page]  [The Automator]  [About]  [Subscribe ]  [Contact Us]

Events

Want Ads

Our Sponsors

Resources