Networking: The Modern Prospecting
The buck starts somewhere and I would have to say it starts with lead generation. It seems, however, that many companies invest far too little time and money in this activity. Every business needs to find or create prospects that have an interest or need in the services the company provides.
Business owners and salespeople alike seem to interpret prospecting as a negative activity, yet it is an essential part of most businesses. It is necessary to develop and maintain a lead-generation program that encompasses prospecting.
There are those businesses that have recurring revenue from services rendered; however, they too had to generate leads at some time as it was necessary to prospect in establishing those accounts. Many of those businesses also face attrition of their accounts and must create new growth to sustain a net-zero change in revenue.
As to reoccurring revenue, look at every prospect as a “perennial” in that you give it a great deal of care, nurturing it not just initially but ongoing to receive benefits for years. But more importantly, the future opportunity from its seeds or referrals will serve to create compounded growth, not just one customer. People do business with people they like and trust. Both of these virtues are earned over time.
The act of networking is defined as the developing of contacts or exchanging of information with others in an informal network. This seems to be a straightforward explanation yet many people keep what they do or where they work relatively quiet. If you are a business owner, service person, administrator or a salesperson in the water business, everybody you encounter should be fully aware that you are in the water business, and you should offer your services to him or her. Your job and the company’s welfare is dependant on revenue.
Networking is one of the most effective marketing techniques and will deliver a continuous flow of qualified prospects, providing you work at it. Networking is not like running an ad in the newspaper and waiting for the phone to ring to close orders over the phone or turning the computer on and filling Internet orders. You have to be active in the community and actually get out there and talk to people. It should be no secret as to who you are and what products and services you provide.
Let’s take a look at networking applications relevant to the water business. When you consider the various marketing targets that currently exist, they can serve to pave the current course to follow in networking.
Here are some places to start networking:
- Government Offices that Issue Licenses & Permits. Get to know the clerks in these offices. Do they know who you are and what you do? Become one of their approved or known vendors that pays taxes in the community.
- Retail Suppliers that Sell Building Supplies. Get to know the owner, managers and staff at these stores. Become one of their approved or known vendors who buys from them.
- Real Estate Boards & Offices. Get to know the owner, managers and agents of these offices, and become one of their deal savers.
- Builders & Developers. Become one of their service providers and qualified samplers.
- Your Existing Accounts. Sure they know who you are and what you did for them, but do they know what else you do? Is your number on their refrigerator or at least on the equipment you installed or serviced?
- Educational Institutes. Get to know the directors, counselors and teaching staff of the various schools in your area. Become their service provider and get on their database of contractors for their needs.
- Community Service Clubs & Charities. Get to know the directors, staff and volunteers of the various groups in your community. Become one of their recommended speakers, suppliers and service providers, and be top of mind for community events.
The networking opportunities mentioned above are just a few from a long list. They demand time and effort, but these contacts can have a multiplying effect and pay dividends for years. If you are not comfortable in the role of sales and promotion, then hire someone who is. Networking is the modern way of prospecting and the buck starts with someone prospecting.