|Pointers for soliciting business tomorrow?|
| 7:59 pm on Feb 1, 2004 (gmt 0)|
I'm sick of sitting behind this computer worrying about when I'm going to get my next job. I know of many businesses in the niche field I plan on targeting that has no web presence. Starting tomorrow I plan on going door-to-door and solicit my web services. I know this method could be quite intrusive but how is anyone ever going to know your business even exists, unless you let them know yourself.
I'm new to the sales approach so I was just wondering if you guys could point me in the right direction. I want to avoid coming off as some stereotypical pushy salesman. Any ideas?
Thanks in advance!
| 5:23 pm on Feb 2, 2004 (gmt 0)|
Do you have any current clients or are you just starting out?
Obviously, if you have existing clients who are 'thrilled' with your work, solicit them for referrals and offer a reward.
What about networking opportunities like joining your local chamber of commerce?
Another option is direct mail but this can be costly. However, you can use usps.com and send postcards for something like 25 cents. Just make sure you're targeting the right group for your services so you don't waste your money.
Your idea of going 'door to door' may not be a bad idea either but just make sure your presentation is "professional" and leaves your prospective customer feeling like they can trust you with their business.
| 5:27 pm on Feb 2, 2004 (gmt 0)|
Chamber of Commerce is a good call - you're much more apt to make contacts. I'd also look into leads groups (such as BNI). They're set up solely for networking and referral-based business. Each industry only gets one slot as well, so if you joined a group in your city, no one else in your specific field could.
| 5:35 pm on Feb 2, 2004 (gmt 0)|
I agree with Antstant.
However, when I first started this business I went door to door to businesses. It was hard work but I started with a short "survey" - I forget what I did back then, but how about:
1) Do you have a website?
(If no... 2. What price do would you pay for a website and 3 when can I start.)
If yes then
2) What is the URL and would you be interested in a free Internet marketing/design/whatever yours skill review of the site?
3) What are your contact details to send the report to.
The report, of course, is your reason to quote a proposal. If the guys look too shifty, just don't bother doing the report. They will never care anyway.
Be wary of the guy that keep you for 45 minutes but doesn't seem to have a business yet...
| 6:07 pm on Feb 2, 2004 (gmt 0)|
It's a question of how you target. I've always liked to zero in on strong prospects - better use of time. The "shotgun" strategy, which your survey defo sounds like it's refined well, is a good one too.
Maybe a good solution would be to take that a version of that survey, and start hitting up contacts already had? See what sort of interest/ business that generates, so you hit some more targeted potentials, then supplement it with some door-to-door.
| 6:16 pm on Feb 2, 2004 (gmt 0)|
I recommend absolutely recommend BNI, if there's no web person in your area on the BNI board. Small investment of money and time to get people talking about what you do.
Also join the Chamber of Commerce. If there's a web person on there or a few, go in the other direction away from what they do, and you can all work in concert. It's easier to find a niche vs. taking on an established competitor head-on. However, find out their rep - I know there's a competitor around here who is so terrible, it makes us walking in easy... well, not so, because they don't trust web people after their bad experience with this guy. (Who I'm not even sure is IN busienss anymore.)
Basically - DON'T try to sell. Don't do it. Don't waste your time or theirs. Either they know they want it - great! - or they don't.
0.5% to 10% of every industry has someone looking for a new supplier at any given time. It's just a matter of playing the numbers.
All the time you spend talking for 45 min. to "convince" someone who is "interested" (god, run away from interested people) is time you're NOT spending with the guy next door who's waiting to write a cheque THAT DAY to get started!
(Can you imagine? It's like being at a store, where there's a guy in a line waiting to buy something, but instead you spend time talking to the person who *might* buy something down the road...)
Just walk up, find the owner, and ask if they need a website. If they say no - and most will, so be prepared for that! - either:
a) Ask why, without following up with a "sell" - you'll gain good info on what they know, what their objections are
b) Just ask if they'd consider it in the future, say 3 - 6 months, and if they want your card, and for you to come back then
Even if they say yes, or that they want it - ask them first to schedule another appointment. If they want to talk now, fine, but don't assume that.
Be prepared to take a downpayment on a site that day. It probably won't happen, but it could. Some biz people are literally just waiting or procrastinating on this, and getting that will help them commit to it.
Oh - make sure you have business cards at least on you, if not brochures. Some places, the gatekeeper will take it back to the boss to see, and then the boss will decide whether to see you or not.
The problem with walk-ins to the bigger firms - ie manufacturing, etc. - is that they have SERIOUS gatekeepers there. Literally, locked off offices! We were able to get someone high up on the phone for the 30 sec. it takes to find out vs. see them in person.
It's actually more efficient to target and call places then show up at the door.
But let us know how Day One goes! OK? Post it to the board...
| 11:39 pm on Feb 2, 2004 (gmt 0)|
Today I kind of just gathered information on potential clients (Address,location,website address on window, etc.) I did get a chance to speak to some business owners just briefly. Most of them were too busy to have a lengthy conversation so I just introduced myself and nature of my business and left my business card with them. I made a note of the feel I got from the owner and made sure I jotted down their phone number for possible follow up. The "door-to-door" method could be quite time consuming unless you're fully prepared with a list of prospects in advance. Obviously I didn't.
What did I learn today?
Being that I'm one of those people that always plays by the rules and usually make sure I think everything out prior to doing just about anything. I thought to myself, it's time for a change. Something I've wanted to achieve for so long. I learned that it is possible to go directly in to a business and solicit my services. For now on no more playing it safe...no more over analyzing and trying to guess every possible scenario, good or bad. Believe me, this "playing it safe" attitude will get you nowhere in this type of business.
For now on I'm going out like a hunter and gathering my food to eat. The days of waiting around for something to happen are over.
Thanks for all of your suggestions!
| 12:07 am on Feb 3, 2004 (gmt 0)|
Way to go Anthony!
The rest of you, however, should continue to sit and wait, to make Anthony's job easier. :-)
| 2:44 am on Feb 3, 2004 (gmt 0)|
Thats right. You guys wait around and I'll sneak through the back door!
| 1:39 pm on Feb 3, 2004 (gmt 0)|
Way to go Anthony! It is really difficult to do the cold calls, and you've seem to have gotten off to a great start.
Some ideas for finding businesses to call:
Check the directory of your local Chamber of Commerce for businesses without websites.
Also, check the directory for the local Better Business Bureau.
It's a lot of work, but it can pay off nicely.
I would highly recommend that you get out there and network! Word of mouth is extremely powerful when starting a business. I've been full time at this full time for about 6 months now and all of my clients have been through word of mouth. So, get out there and meet people, you'd be surprised at how many clients you'll find.
| 2:14 pm on Feb 3, 2004 (gmt 0)|
Just curious - how long did it take you to go full-time in your web biz?
I'm assuming you did it part-time first?
| 2:23 pm on Feb 3, 2004 (gmt 0)|
I am from the UK and I get most of my business from referrals and it works really well.
Referrals come from the following:
1) BNI - its a networking group that allows only 1 company from a profession to attend the meetings for your chapter. Chances are you will get referrals from at least one, which would cover your membership costs.
2) BNI actually led me to one of my most frequent sources of referrals. Aftering speaking to a Marketing Consultant and also a Brand Consultant, we got together for joint pitches. We are now able to offer a full marketing package - businesses love this. They get everything done in one place and can be safe in the knowledge that their marketing communications are consistant.
3) I get other referrals from other sources also. I pay per referral.....normally £50 if it comes off. This increases if the referrer gives me more than 6 referrals per year. I have one such referrer that has taken a decent family holiday from the proceeds - he's happy and so am I!
4) Word of mouth is great - but it does put you under pressure. If you have a client that referrers you on to someone else you have to ensure that the work you do is perfect - it'll reflect badly on both the new client and the original client - and he/she may move on to another provider of your service.
All this is just my experience of referrals. Its a great way of getting business.
I hope that this helps people out.
| 3:09 pm on Feb 3, 2004 (gmt 0)|
Instead of going door to door, you may want to start cold-calling first to set up appointments.
Call and ask for the manager/owner/etc... i.e. the right person.
"Hi, my name is Joe, I'm calling from ABC design, we're a local design firm and we've done work for [some-other-company-in-prospect's-industry]. The reason I'm calling specifically is that I was going to be in the area on [blah blah] and wanted to set up a quick meeting"
And go from there... focus on getting the appointment, don't try to sell anything over the phone, get the meeting, prepare for the meeting and ask a lot of questions at the meeting.
Don't leave the meeting before setting a 'follow up' appointment where you will present the proposal that you drew up from all the questions you asked.
This is all front-line tactical stuff, which is the 'pointy end' of the sword and very necessary. However, you may want to look into establishing awareness for your company in the area.
Do a faxout (if you're allowed to) or send a flyer. I've found that this 'primes' people for your call, they'll recognize the name from a previous marketing material you sent their way. You can do without it, but it does make sales easier.
| 9:26 pm on Feb 3, 2004 (gmt 0)|
I agree with Shasan that doing cold calls might yield a better result. By setting up an appointment it shows your potential client that you value their time.
I have friends who have has great success in doing fax outs for their businesses. It gets your name out there relatively inexpensively. I personally haven't done this yet as I'm finding that word of mouth is giving me enough leads to keep busy.
Randal, in response to your question: yep I started part time. I was part time for about a year before I went full time. I'm not making full time salary yet, but I have no regrets!
| 9:07 pm on Feb 4, 2004 (gmt 0)|
If knocking on doors - real geotargeting - will be your primary work generator why don't you simultaneously build and optimize a website relevant to the community where you will be seeking work?
There, too, you can solicit work and show off your talents in both design and "getting noticed by the SEs".
Think about it.
| 10:12 pm on Feb 4, 2004 (gmt 0)|
We've been in the business 6 years. Its the companies that can sell professionally that seem to hang around. The talented end up working for them so they don't have to worry about where the next job is coming from!
Its harder and harder for one man to make a web business work. Its hard to market it, sell it, do it, invoice it and get paid for it on your own.
People want continuity of service and if you take a holiday while the client forgets his email password that you have told him twice weekly for the last two years, you just ain't gonna cut the mustard!
We find it easier to sell to clients who *have* websites, rather than those who don't.
Best of luck - there is *loads* of business out there.
| 11:36 pm on Feb 4, 2004 (gmt 0)|
It is really funny where work comes from sometimes. I too started out by scouring every resource I could: Chambers of Commerce, my niche industry's member roster, ads in the local paper that didn't list a web site, etc, etc, etc.
It is now a year later, and here are my top 5 sources of work:
1. Word of mouth from friends & contacts - either the contact themselves, or a close associate of the contact needing a site. It's all about who you know, the more people the better.
2. Direct marketing in the form of letters, phone calls or e-mails to potential clients.
3. My web site which they found via Google or via a link from a client's site
4. The yellow pages (I still can't believe this one)
5. Totally random discussion with a perfect stranger (yep, believe it or not)
So, needless to say this year I'm focusing my efforts on the top 3, and hoping for some more of the other two as well!
| 11:57 pm on Feb 4, 2004 (gmt 0)|
A buyers perspective....
- don't waste my time...tell me what you are representing. You have about 30 seconds.
- a redirect to one of the staff is not a brush off but a referral. I wouldn't waste my emplotees time if not interested.
- ultimate decision is mine but will come up with recomendations.
- not interested means just that. Numerous followups and emails will ensure you don't get the contract. Followup should be 6-8 week timeframe...a short email to say you are still around.
- if you impressed me, the name will be onfile here and you will get an opportunity.
Remember that the business social setting is just that. Once you are into that setting the referral is all important. If so and so can recomend your work...and I know him and his company....you are going to hear from me when the situation arises.
Sometimes it is better to deal with the small company from our perspective....we like the leverage it gives us, especially for larger (from their perspective) contracts.
| 1:19 am on Feb 5, 2004 (gmt 0)|
In contrast to Visi's (very legitimate) views, from a selling point I would say follow ups in the 3-4 week timeframe (unless specifically prohibited) are one of the most important things you have to do.
If following up 'too much' with one prospect loses you the sale, I've lost sales by not staying in touch.
I would call them up a couple of months down the road and get the old, "ah, you shoulda called a month ago, we went with ABC company instead, sorry bud."
You cannot know how the prospect will react to too many follow ups. But erring on the side of following up is never a bad way to go.
Oh, don't forget the ABC principle..
Always Be Calling. :)
you may want to check out these books (all on amazon):
1. "Red-Hot Cold Call Selling: Prospecting Techniques That Pay Off"
2. Cold Calling Techniques: (That Really Work!)
Or if you want a subtley different approach:
3. High Probability Selling: Re-Invents the Selling Process
But remember, sales is only one part of a larger marketing strategy.