Where Sales Begin (and You Should Too)

In her article, "A Surefire Way to Make More Money," executive sales trainer Debbie White points out the three indispensable abilities a professional salesperson must learn and practice.

  • How to convert leads to appointments
  • How to convert appointments to presentations
  • How to convert presentations to new clients

You would be hard-put to deliver a more succinct definition of sales fundamentals, yet one thing is glaringly missing: Where do you get those leads?

Surefire sources of leads

The sales cycle begins and ends with leads. Once a potential client (a lead) is identified and has invested in your product or service, the very next thing you should do is ask that new customer for referrals (more leads). Sales are fueled by leads: Work the lead, set the appointment, make the presentation, close the sale, ask for referrals, and work more leads. That is the extended sales cycle, and every step is crucial to sales success.

Take-it-to-the-bank ways to get more leads:

  1. Ask for referrals: It's already been said, but it bears repeating. There is no richer source of qualified leads than the people who have already purchased your product. Moreover, nurturing the lead is tremendously important. HubSpot reports 79 percent of leads fail to convert into sales and the primary reason is a lack of lead nurturing.
  2. Use the Internet wisely: The Internet can be a powerful tool when used wisely. It can be a major time drain when it is not. Go where people are talking about your products or services and join the conversation. Don't blast the community with a sales pitch; just join the conversation and be helpful. By stepping in with the answer someone needs; by responding to situations with helpful, actionable advice; and by displaying what you know and the value you possess through comments and guest posts, you will build a following. Make sure your pictures and profiles are the same on all your business-related accounts and be sure your profiles clearly point out what you do for a living.
  3. Attend events and network: Whether it's a local meeting of Toastmasters International, a trade show your potential clients will attend, or a national conference related to your industry, keep a supply of business cards handy at all times and get to know people. Use the same strategy in person you use online: Just be helpful.
  4. Buy leads: You may not like to spend money on leads, but they can be valuable; not only in their conversion potential, but also by saving you a considerable amount of time. Few people enjoy cold-calling. It is not unusual to spend hours on the phone to get one good lead. When you purchase leads (from a proven source), you can use that precious time setting appointments, rather than chasing down leads.
  5. Email marketing: Whether you purchase a mailing list or collect contacts online from your own website and internet prospecting work, email can be quite productive, when used properly. As with Internet prospecting in general, you don't want to spam people or shout about yourself to them, you simply want to be helpful. Setting up an email marketing system takes a little work, but it can pay off.

Sales can be the most rewarding of occupations. It can also be the toughest. A common piece of advice is ABS (Always be selling). A sale, though, is the result of a process that begins with prospecting for leads. Let's change that acronym to ABP: Always be prospecting.

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