If you’re just starting as an entrepreneur, you’ll need ways to generate more business. Here are six ways to make this happen.
Be Open to the Unforeseen
Don’t freak out when unintended customers use your product in unintended ways. When business is booming, figure out where and why this is happening, and adjust your company to reflect this information.
IBM, however, was not fixated on scientists, and allowed its products to flourish as business machines. This is why IBM is a household name, and you only hear about Univac in history books.
Another example of the unforeseen: Did you know that women use Avon products as insect repellent?
Use the Right Lead Generation Method
The usual way of creating sales leads is through advertising and telemarketing. However, this method works if people are already buying your products.
If your product is new, it needs to be sold, not bought. For selling to happen, you’ll need an effective lead-generation strategy. Here are the top five methods.
- Conducting small-scale seminars
- Giving speeches
- Getting published
- Proactive networking
- Participating in industry organizations
Seminars are most beneficial because you can create face-to-face contact and introduce your product.
Find the Influencer
Successful selling requires access to decision makers. Unfortunately, these key individuals have people who guard them from salespeople like you who bombard them with pitches for their “great products.”
To get to decision makers, you need to know how to get on the good side of these influencers. Influencers are usually administrative assistants or secretaries.
To make a good impression, keep these points in mind.
Don’t think they’re trying to prevent you from getting to the decision maker. Their job is to enable the executive to do her job – one of which is to guard her time from people who will waste it.
Don’t Bribe Them
No one wants to be thought of as someone who can be bought. The way to get to the executive is to have a solid introduction and a valuable proposition, and treat every contact in the company with respect.
After you’ve received access to the decision maker, then you can follow up with an email, handwritten note, or gift of gratitude to the influencer.
Make Them Talk
If someone wants to buy your product, he’ll often tell you what it takes to close the deal. All you need to do is listen. This is the process to make that happen.
- Request permission to ask questions – this creates a comfortable environment
- Ask the questions
- Listen to the answers
- Take notes
- If your product fills their needs, explain how
Despite the simplicity of this method, people still make these common mistakes.
- They’re not prepared to ask intelligent questions. To fix this, do the appropriate research before the meeting.
- They don’t shut up. They badger the prospect until he submits. If they do keep quiet, they don’t listen. Remember – hearing is automatic, but listening is NOT.
- They don’t take notes because they don’t think it’s important. But doing so will impress your prospect, showing that you care enough about what was said to write it down.
Allow Test Drives
The biggest barrier entrepreneurs face is reliance on the status quo. People think the current products are good enough.
Thus, an entrepreneur’s job is to show people why they need something new. The best way to attract customers is to let them try before they buy.
In doing this, you’re saying that they’re smart enough to decide on their own. You’re not forcing them to become a customer.
A great example of a trial offer is GM’s 24-hour test drive. Traditional car dealers merely let you drive around the block. GM, however, will let you take it home for the night to get a true feel for the vehicle.
Provide a Simple First Step
Don’t ask your customers to completely abandon their existing product and replace it with yours. That’s demanding a huge leap of faith.
Instead, ask them to try your product in small areas of their business, and in a low-risk manner such as
- one geographic location
- one department
- one project
Getting your foot in the door is the hardest battle to win. Once you’re in, if your product is great, customer satisfaction will catalyze further adoption.
And counterintuitive as it seems, you should also make it easy for customers to stop using your service.
It’s way better for your reputation if they say your product wasn’t for them, than for them to spend an hour fighting with your customer service representative to discontinue their service.
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