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Ecommerce Forum

New customers the old fashioned way
Person to person networking leads - do you?

 8:24 pm on Jan 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

This isn't really about ecommerce specifically but I think this might be the best place to ask this question.

One of the things we offer is a service instead of an actual physical product. Over the last couple of years our accountant has referred a couple of people to us that have become customers. They're actually two of our best customers and we'd love to have more just like them. Have any of you gone out and talked to accountants/laywers/etc to see if they'd be willing to refer people/businesses, when appropriate, to you? If so do you offer a finders fee or a monthly residual? Also, I know there are face-to-face network groups like Ali Lassen and BNI. Anyone have any experience with those types of groups?

I'd love to see if anyone else has had experience getting new business this way.




 8:34 pm on Jan 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

I haven't leveraged this yet, but it's a tried and true method. Google 'centers of influence' for more info on what you're talking about.

One other common method is your local chamber of commerce. That can be a good source.

I mentioned in another thread that one thing I'd like to do this year as time permits is actually find folks like that - but get them to send me the clients they don't sell.

Lemme give an example. Say you sell cars and I sell automotive accessories. You sell a car and upgrade the rims - no problem, don't send that client to me. But if your client wants nice rims but tells you he's going to go aftermarket, then you pull out my card and send him my way. I pay you $50. So you're referring me quality business, and you're making money off of leads you can't actually use - even though we somewhat compete. I get good leads, you get $50 instead of 0, consumer gets what they wanted. That's the type of thing I'd like to expand to. Has the potential of keeping up with Google traffic.


 9:44 pm on Jan 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

"Has the potential of keeping up with Google traffic."

Absolutely! Even better, I think this will provide really qualified leads with a high conversion rate.

We wouldn't be competing with our referrers. In our case, they'd be in a perfect position to know when someone is ready for our service and it seems that their customers would be likely to ask if they know of any one providing a service like us. At least that's what happened with the ones our accountant recommended. I want 100 more just like her but I'm not quite sure how to approach them, especially when I start reaching out to referrers out of our area.

"...chamber of commerce"

Thanks for the reminder! I'd forgotten about that resource.


 9:46 am on Jan 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

Too many poeple get hung up on the "e" in ecommerce. Any business should be marketed through multiple channels both traditional and web based.


 3:43 pm on Jan 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

piatkow, do you do any "traditional" networking with other professionals? Any tips for approaching business people and do you pay them a fee?


 3:01 pm on Feb 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Of course, to approach people in your sector switch off the PC and go to events where you will meet them.

My post referred to the people who are obsessed with only promoting a web based business through the web. Just watch daytime TV to see how price comparison websites use an "old school" channel to reach customers.


 2:53 pm on Feb 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

Absolutely works. There are so many web people on the web, but it's surprising how few of them actually get out and meet people. Especially when you're pitching things like PPC or SEO, having that face to face is HUGE. Unless you come across like a total scam artist, people are more likely to trust someone they've met, who's office they can visit any time, than someone on the Internet claiming to be the best. Plus, if you're at an event meeting THEM, you're also meeting the people they are likely to seek an opinion from ABOUT YOU after you leave. Nothing is better for business than if you leave the room and they start asking around to others and everyone says "Yeah, I know him, nice guy".

I don't go to a ton of networking events, and when I do I never make a sales pitch. I let people come to me... they are always eager to pitch their business and I LISTEN and wait for them to ask what I do. My reason for being there is for my (and my company's) name to be familiar. Even a "I've heard of him" goes a long way when people are asking their friends for a recommendation.


 2:56 pm on Feb 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

this thread is a good example of why you need to go to pubcon. There's making connections on WebmasterWorld. Then there's having dinner with the names. Connections get cemented a lot stronger after you've sat down and chatted in person about life in general.


 3:55 pm on Feb 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

this thread is a good example of why you need to go to pubcon.

Before that go to events associated with your market sector.


 4:27 pm on Feb 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

Before that go to events associated with your market sector.

Maybe. Or maybe not.

I've got lots of personal help from general SEO specialists as the result of going to pubcon. I've got help with links in my industry. Help with ideas I use to build links. Specific help with specific links. Adwords help. Etc.

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