Do you know the #1 reason a business doesn’t bring in enough money?
It’s usually not because something’s wrong with the product or service or even the delivery. It’s because the business isn’t getting in front of enough of the right kind of people.
That’s right: It’s that simple. If you’re not pitching your product or service to enough of the right kind of people, there is no way you’re going to bring in enough revenue to meet your goals.
That’s because the process of going from prospects to sales looks like this:
Notice that this process is a funnel: You start with a large number of prospects, but fewer and fewer of them make it through each stage. That’s because not every prospect will meet the criteria needed to make a sale: They need your product, they want your product, they can afford your product, and they’re willing buy right now.
So why aren’t you getting in front of enough of the right kind of people?
That’s ultimately because you don’t have enough strategies to bring in business, or you’re not using them on a regular and consistent basis. Those strategies are how you generate the prospects; they’re how you fill your funnel.
Strategies for Bringing in Business
We’ve all been guilty of the hope-wish-pray strategy of bringing in business. That’s when you cross your fingers and hope, wish and pray that people will come knocking on your door. If you’ve ever done that—I’ll admit that I have—you’ll learn pretty quickly that it doesn’t work. Maybe some people find you just because you exist, but that stream will dry up fast if you don’t do something to keep it flowing.
If you want to guarantee that you’ll be able to keep prospects pouring into the top of your funnel, you need to develop multiple, targeted strategies that you use on a regular and consistent basis. I always recommend having 8-10 strategies. You’ll use three to four on a regular basis, but having backups is a lifesaver if one of your tried-and-true strategies gets stale or stops working.
Strategies for bringing in business come in several flavors, but before we get into those, I want to make an important point. I said I recommend that you have 8-10 strategies that work for you. By working for you, I mean that the strategies need to be a good fit for your personality so that you’ll implement them and keep implementing them. If one of your strategies requires you to do something you dread, you won’t do it. If you don’t do it, it won’t work, so be sure that your list of strategies are all ones that you’re willing to use or—better yet!—that you enjoy using.
Don’t worry! Whether you’re an introvert, an extrovert or somewhere between, there are tons of effective strategies out there. I promise you’ll be able to find 8-10 that work for you. One way you’ll do that is by understanding the different flavors of strategies: marketing, networking and selling.
Marketing is the process of getting your company’s name into the community. It’s about letting people get to know your company and what it does, about telling your story. Generally, marketing efforts reach groups of people, not individuals. Some examples of marketing vehicles include:
- Seminars and webinars
- Social media posts
- Direct mail
- eBooks Search engine optimization (SEO)
Networking is the process of building relationships. It’s about getting people to like you and your brand by providing value and service that helps them solve a problem or find opportunities. When you network, you’re developing connections with others that help you both—eventually. You’re not looking for an immediate sale here; in fact, you may never do direct business with your networking partners. Your relationships with them will lead to business from their partners, clients and connections. Generally, networking is about individuals; while you might meet a lot of people at a networking event, your focus is on building a relationship with individual people.
It's vital that you get involved with networks that attract the kind of people that you can build those mutually beneficial relationships with. Some examples of networks include:
- Business networking groups
- Professional and industry associations
- Interest-based associations
- Chambers of commerce
- Community service organizations
Pro Tip: Don’t spread yourself too thin. Join more than one networking group, but no more than three. And be patient. Friends help out friends, and that’s what you’re building with networking: your best business friends.
For more on networking, listen to my podcast How to Take the Work Out of Networking.
When most people think about selling, they think of cold calling or hard sales: You’re in the face of someone you don’t know at all or don’t know very well, and your one purpose is to get them to buy from you. If you don’t think that sounds very pleasant—for you or your prospect—welcome to the club.
Sales is about closing deals, and it’s necessary. If you don’t close deals, you don’t have revenue. Without revenue, you don’t have a business. But sales doesn’t have to be mercenary and pushy. In fact, it shouldn’t be! Like networking, your approach to sales should be personal. It should build trust.
The key here is remembering that it’s not about you. Your sales process is an opportunity to learn more about a prospect who has come to you through your marketing and networking efforts. When you know a prospect’s needs and goals, you can focus on how your service will alleviate pain, provide value and make their life not just easier but also better.
A few things to keep in mind when designing your sales process:
- It’s not about you! I can’t say that enough. When you concentrate on serving your prospects instead of yourself, you’ll be able to do both.
- Listen. When a prospect feels heard, they feel cared for. People don’t buy from a business; they buy from a person they trust.
- Make it personal. Don’t just reel off the details of your service; share stories about other clients who used your service to better their lives.
- Encourage questions, and answer them thoroughly. The more questions a prospect walks away with, the more doubt they have.
- Ask for the sale. “There’s a lot we can accomplish together. Can I send you a final proposal and get you on the calendar?”
Narrowing the Funnel
Let’s go back to that first statement: If your business isn’t making enough money, it’s because you’re not getting in front of enough of the right kind of people.
So far, we’ve talked about how to get in front of more people by implementing 8-10 marketing, networking and selling strategies that work for you, and using them on a regular and consistent basis. Let’s talk for a minute about that phrase the right kind of people.
I showed you a funnel, with a larger number of prospects coming in at the top and a smaller number of sales coming out at the bottom. You can narrow the shape of that funnel.
When you narrow the funnel, you need fewer prospects at the top because more make it all the way through. You do that by focusing your strategies on the right kind of people. There are two ways to do this: by refining your target market and by tapping into referrals.
Refining Your Target Market
At the beginning of this article, we defined the kind of prospect who would become a closed sale as someone who needs, wants and can afford your product and who is ready to buy right now. That’s also the definition of your target market.
We tend to think of a target market as pretty broad, but the more specific you can get about describing the people who can most benefit from your service, the more focused you can be in your marketing and networking efforts. That will increase the quality of your prospects, so that each prospect is more likely to make it all the way through the funnel.
How do you measure prospect quality? By knowing your closing ratio. Closing ratio is the number of people you need to sit down with to close one deal. The fewer people you have to sit down with to close a deal, the better you’re doing at narrowing in on your target market.
If you have to sit down with 50 people to make one sale (a closing ratio of 2%), you’re spending way more time and energy per sale than if you only had to sit down with 10 people to make one sale (a closing ratio of 10%). Think about how much time you would save if you only had to sit down with five prospects to close a sale!
This is why it’s good to have 8-10 strategies: If you find that the ones you’re using most are resulting in a low closing ratio, you have others to try.
Tapping Into Referrals
One of the easiest ways to boost your closing ratio and narrow that funnel is to tap into referrals. The key here is to keep building your relationships even once you’ve closed a sale. When you wow a client with amazing service and then keep serving by continuing to provide value, you create fans who want others to have the same great experience they did. You’re basically recruiting happy current and former customers to pre-vet prospects for you!
You have to remember that your fans are busy people, and this isn’t their job. Make it easy for them by:
- Asking for reviews and referrals. I’m thrilled that you’re so happy with your service! Would you mind posting a review of your experience? Do you have any friends or contacts who could use our help?
- Making it easy to review and refer. Provide links to the online sites you would like them to post on. Design a referral rewards system to offer perks or discounts to clients whose referrals result in closed business.
- Keep providing value so you stay top-ofmind. Invite clients to special events; offer tips that increase the value of the service you’ve already provided; call and touch base periodically to see how they’re doing.
For more on referrals, check out my video Creating Raving Fans That Refer.
Okay, one more time and all together: If you want to make more money, you need to implement 8-10 strategies to get you in front of enough of the right kind of people.