What can a blind squirrel demonstrate to us about promotion?
Mark Hale ‐ November 11, 2013
You’ve heard the cliché that even a blind squirrel will find an acorn. What does a blind squirrel do? Well he is blind. He is hungry? Nobody is going to feed him? If he is going to eat he has to find an acorn.
So, he goes on a regimen of searching madly everywhere for an acorn. Being blind he runs into all sorts of barriers and stops but he persists mainly because he is hungry and does not want to starve to death.
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The blind squirrel is outflowing, promoting madly, if you will to find an acorn.
I am not suggesting that you promote like a blind squirrel, but even that would be better than little or no promotion.
If you feel like your sales are sometimes like riding a roller coaster, lots of ups and downs but with little or no prediction of when the ups or downs will happen, it is probably because you’ve let some of the basic successful actions fall out.
Finding qualified prospects and increasing your sales is simply the result of doing two things:
Outflowing in sufficient volume for business via phone, fax, email, letter or personal visit to prospects and clients in an increasing volume and, the expert handling of inquiries that results from your high volume of outflow.
These rules apply to every business and every sales person alike. Show me a business whose sales are flat or down and I will show you a business who has cut down gradually or stopped promoting altogether. The same is true for a sales person who is in a slump. If you inspect and look closely, in every case you will find the sales person who is in a slump has cut down on the number of sales calls he is making, is not prospecting and is sending very little, if any communication out to clients and prospects.
The basic principal of promotion is quantity over quality. Sure you want to target as much as possible both to who you are reaching and target the message to the recipient. Simply, the number of people you get in front of on a consistent and regular basis has more to do with your company’s viability and success than anything else. I’m not saying that your outflow is untargeted or is blasted out randomly but even that would be better than little or no outflow.
It’s quite astonishing to me to see how often the promotional basics are dropped out or neglected which then causes income and viability to crash.
Basic promotional actions are defined as the actions that are known to be successful and that lead to increased sales.
Basic promotional actions for a business include:
- Calling customers to make sure they are happy with purchases.
- Sending thank you and birthday cards out.
- Surveying customers and prospects to see what is needed and wanted by them.
- Mailing targeted postcard or sales letters out to prospects on a targeted list.
- Sending emails out to customers and prospects.
- Keeping your website up to date and fresh.
- Make sure you have brochures and other marketing materials to help answer prospect’s questions and guide the sales process to close.
- Having a referral program that is known by your employees and actively and consistently promoted to your customers.
- Making sure the product you produce is what the customer needs and wants. Making sure the customer gets serviced quickly.
- Making sure your office is uncluttered, clean and organized. Nothing says unprofessional to a customer more than a dirty and cluttered office.
- For a sales person the basics include things like:
- Making new presentations to prospects and customers.
- Making a detailed lineup of active prospects for the week and calling these prospects.
- Always asking for the business, handling customer concerns, questions and objections as they occur.
- Sending out sales letters to prospects.
- Making calls to prospects to identify opportunities (AKA cold calling).
- Making follow-up calls to current clients to make sure they are happy and to identify what else may be needed and wanted by them.
- Sending proposals to prospects and customers that demonstrate solutions and fill customer needs.
- Sending follow-up emails to customers to provide information and to see what else may be needed or wanted.
- Making follow-up phone calls to customers asking for referrals. Sending out thank you notes and birthday cards to customers.
There is often a time delay from when you do the above actions to when you get a result. People today are impatient and want instant results; unfortunately, success is rarely instant and more likely to follow weeks, months or years of doing the successful promotional actions consistently and regularly.
I have found that you get the fastest results and surge orders and income as follows:
- Email communication to customer’s – instant to 2 days after and you will see a spike.
- Phone calls out to customers and prospects – usually 3 to 5 days after and you will see a spike.
- Personal letters or note cards sent out to customers and prospects – 7 to 12 days after and you will see a spike.
- Postcards sent out to prospects and customers – usually 12 to 15 days after and you will see a spike, but inquires will come in and will affect sales for 6 to 8 weeks after mailing.
For best results you will have to do all the above actions in some fashion. Even though you are limited by the amount of time you have each day to do personal outflow of phone calls, emails and letters, it should be done every day because this can be very effective.
Direct mail can reach very large numbers of targeted prospects and has to be done in order to reach enough prospects to create expansion and growth. The direct mail you do will make you known and familiar to more and more people and generate qualified leads coming in. People tend to buy from businesses and people they are familiar with, if you give them a special offer or reason they will buy faster.
All of the above actions work in conjunction with each other. If you drop out any of the above, you will have a harder time generating leads and growth.
If you have found your sales to be flat or down, I encourage you to look at the above checklist and see how many of the items you are doing, and are you doing them more or less than you were in the recent past.
So that you don’t get discouraged, I suggest you graph your outflow of letters, postcards, phone calls out and proposals or quotes sent out and track your inflow of calls in and gross sales. Over time you will be able to see on the graph that you sent out postcards and 3 weeks later you had 30 new customers and your sales went up to a new level, or your sales team made 800 phone calls to customers and prospects last week and this week you landed 20 new customers and had sent out 200 proposals as a result and had your highest ever week for income.
To wrap it up, my main point is you have to keep your promotional outflow ever increasing and consistent.
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