The biggest struggle salespeople have is finding new leads. We all try social media ads, mailers, and even hosted events. But occasionally the response slows down and that sales funnel gets a little empty. I want to focus on a few tips to help salespeople from MSPs generate leads locally. And the biggest tip of all is this: Network.
When I was in college many of my instructors suggested that students who were looking for employment after graduation should network with people from whatever industry they wanted to go into. But when we asked those instructors how to begin networking, most froze and mumbled incoherent gibberish. The fact was, they didn’t know how to network. But through trial and error, meeting and greeting hundreds of people, I’ve discovered that there is no magic to networking. Basically, it’s just getting out and meeting people.
But where do you start? I’ve seen a lot of success when a salesperson actively pursues meeting new people, so here are a few ways to get started:
Every town has groups that meet regularly and are filled with business owners, people who hire for businesses and influencers. To get started I’d recommend that you visit groups you’re interested in. Was your father in the Elks Club? Go ahead and Join. Do you know someone in the Rotary Club? Tag along with them. Wherever regular meetings take place, that’s where you want to be. A good place to start, if you haven’t already, is your local Chamber of Commerce. That’s where you’ll find the leaders of your community, and these are the people who know all the movers and shakers you want to meet.
Remember that when you attend these meetings you have to be prepared to give a few different versions of your elevator pitch. If you have a thirty-second version, a two-minute version, and more information if you need it, you’ll come across as a true professional. But if you’re not prepared, oh boy! You’ll blow that chance to impress a prospective client.
Try each group three times
Look, we all know that you’re not going to gain new prospects with just a few conversations. You need to show up more than once. Again, that will show that you’re a professional and not just someone fishing for business. Most people have been approached by multiple sales people throughout their careers, and they can probably smell the desperation on you if you push too hard. Just try to get a few business cards and follow up later. But don’t try to get a card from everyone the first time you show up. Which leads me to the next subject.
Actually engage, don’t just show up and expect results
People will put up a wall between you and them if they feel like they’re being pressured. If someone doesn’t want to talk right now, maybe they’ll be more open in the future. If they see that you are engaged and involved in what they are interested in they’ll be more likely to trust you. And once you’ve gained that trust they will be more comfortable opening up to you. What you’re after is people respecting you as a professional. And you can’t achieve that if your approach is hit and run.
Play the long-term game, not the short-term approach
Remember that networking is meeting people and building relationships. The more often you see someone the better the chance you’ll have them opening up to you. If you come off as an expert in your field, as a friendly person, and as someone who doesn’t apply too much pressure you’ll be many steps ahead of the salespeople who don’t put in the time. This is not a quick and dirty strategy, it’s a long-term plan. Just nurture these new relationships and you’ll be surprised at how many leads you might find.