If you sell any kind of service, whether professional, personal, or technical, this book will give you the information you need to bring in large numbers of sales at the fees you want.
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Robert Bly is an independent copywriter specializing in business to business and direct-response advertising.
Selling Your Services
PART ONE Power Prospecting: How to Generate Initial Interest in Your Services CHAPTER ONE Techniques for Generating Sales Leads Once you decide to begin actively marketing and selling your services, how will potential clients learn about the availability of those services? If you're lucky, perhaps your phone will start ringing right away, without any effort on your part. If that happens--congratulations! You will have all the business you need, and you can skip this chapter. But for most service providers, self-promotion is an essential activity. Just as Ford must advertise to sell cars, you must advertise and promote yourself and your service business if you expect people to call you with assignments. How much of your time will be spent marketing and selling your services? It varies by industry and individual. Many established service providers spend between 10 and 25 percent of their time on self-promotion. Beginners must devote even more effort to establishing a reputation, getting clients, and making a name in the local community. Self-promotion is the subject of this chapter. How do you promote yourself? Does direct mail work for service providers? Does it pay to advertise? How can you get people tohire you? I'll show you what techniques can work for you, including telemarketing/cold calling, referrals, testimonials, direct mail, advertising, and networking. TELEMARKETING Telemarketing, as it applies to selling services, means picking up the telephone, calling strangers, and asking them if they'd be interested in getting a free estimate or learning more about your services. Does this type of "cold-call" telemarketing work? For most service providers, no. I never make cold telephone calls to a list of prospects, and for the most part, I advise you to do likewise. There are several reasons why cold telephone calling is so ineffective. First, it puts you in the weak, unseemly position of appearing to be "begging" for the work. At best, prospects perceive you as someone who isn't very busy and needs work. At worst, it annoys the heck out of prospects, making them totally unreceptive to your message. The main reason I don't recommend cold telephone calling is because of a principle taught to me by marketing expert Pete Silver. Pete says that when marketing your services, it's better to get prospects to come to you, rather than you going to them. Cold telephone calling violates this principle. Despite what I've just told you, cold-call telemarketing campaigns are actively conducted by thousands of firms, most notably home improvement companies (siding, windows, doors, roofing) and financial services firms (gold coins, stockbrokers, mutual funds, and other investments). Stockbroker Andrew Lanyi, a twenty-nine-year veteran of Wall Street, says he has made over 1 million cold calls in his career. It must be working, since Andrew now earns over $1.5 million a year--almost eight times more than the President of the United States. If you do decide to make cold calls, have someone else in your office do it or hire someone to make the calls for you. Andrew Lanyi, for example, now has a staff of three people who do the initial calling, telephoning prospects listed in directories and corporate reports. The team spends all day calling prospects, qualifying them (a Lanyi client must invest a minimum of $50,000), and setting them up for a call from Andrew. COLD CALLING Even less effective than making cold calls over the phone is cold calling in person. In my observation, making cold calls simply doesn't work. If you are selling to consumers, knocking on doors puts you on a level of the Avon lady, Fuller Brush salesman, vacuum cleaner salesmen, and other door-to-door peddlers. You want your potential clients to respect you--to think of you as a professional, not a peddler. You'll destroy any chance of that if you just show up on their doorstep. Also, consumer advocates have alerted homeowners to scams perpetrated by door-to-door con artists, so making a cold call at buyers' homes automatically puts them on the alert and creates a negative impression. If you sell to businesses, making a cold call--showing up in the corporate lobby without an appointment and asking to see Suzy Smith or John Jones--is equally as bad. It shouts loud and clear to the prospect that you are a person whose time is not valuable--who is not busy and successful. Also, cold calls are annoying. When I was an advertising manager, I hated it when magazine space reps showed up unannounced. To be polite, I always saw them, but I only half listened to their feeble pitches (the people who made such cold calls were invariably the most incompetent salespersons, with no real understanding of my business or myneeds), and never placed ads with them. The ones I respected always phoned for an appointment well in advance. Don't make cold calls--especially in person. REFERRALS Referrals--also known as word-of-mouth--are a great way to get new business. One advantage of getting leads through word-of-mouth is that prospects are already favorably inclined to hire you, because they have been told great things about you by the person who gave them your name. Whether referrals are frequent and common depends on the type of service business you're in. In my field, direct-mail copywriting, some clients happily refer colleagues to writers and artists, while other clients keep the names of the freelancers they use a closely guarded secret. When my wife was pregnant, our doctor referred us to a qualified Lamaze instructor. I discovered that natural childbirth experts get almost all of their business as a result of referrals from gynecologists, obstetricians, and hospitals. If referrals are a major source of business in your profession, it's important to learn who does the referring--and to contact them and let them know of your service. So, although referrals generally produce sales leads of good quality, you cannot control or significantly increase the quantity of referrals. For the most part, referrals either happen or they don't. Therefore, you can't count on referrals as your only source of new business, and you need to develop other methods of generating sales leads. However, this doesn't mean you are totally helpless when it comes to generating referral business. There are some clients who might refer you but simply never think to do so and never get around to it. These can be sources for referrals, with a little prodding from you. One referral technique that's especially useful when theclient is a large organization is to ask for referrals to other clients within that organization. Typically, most of us are thrilled when we're working for Manager X or Division A of a large Fortune 1000 corporation; this represents lucrative business. But few of us, myself included, ever stop to realize that now that we've got an "in" at the company, other managers and divisions that could buy our service will be much more likely to use us--especially with a referral from Manager X. To get this referral, say to your client, "Mr. Client, I have a question. Who else in [name of company] do you think could benefit from my service?" When the client gives you one or two names, ask for the complete information, including spelling, title, address, and phone number. Then say, "Mr. Client, when I get in touch with [name of referred lead], can I mention your name?" When the client says yes--and he will--you can now legitimately call other prospects within the corporation and say "[Name of client] told me that you use [type of service you offer] and that I should get in touch with you." If you are uncomfortable about having this phone conversation, a less aggressive way of asking for referrals is to send a letter. A model letter you can use follows. date
Mr. Joe Jones, Title XYZ Company Anytown, USA
Dear Mr. Jones:
I'm glad you like the [name of project] I recently completed for you. Like you, I'm always on the lookout for new business. So I have a favor to ask. Could you jot down, on the back of this letter, thenames, addresses, and phone numbers of a few of your colleagues who might benefit from knowing more about my services? (Naturally, I don't want anyone whose business competes with yours.) Then just mail the letter back to me in the enclosed reply envelope. I may want to mention your name when contacting these people. Let me know if there's any problem with that. And thanks for the favor!
Steve Miller TESTIMONIALS Testimonials can benefit many self-promotions--including brochures, direct mail, ads, and press releases. A testimonial is a statement from a satisfied client praising you and your services. A typical testimonial might read: "Thanks for the training program on 'People Skills, for DP Professionals.' The techniques you taught have already improved relations between users and software developers in our organization and have helped us get through a major bottleneck on one important new system." May Stoddard, Manager of Training Big Company, U.S.A. Some testimonials are received unsolicited; for example, a client might send you a letter thanking you for a job well done. Naturally, this makes a good testimonial. However, before you use it, get the client's permission--in writing. Otherwise, clients may become angry if they see themselvesquoted in your next ad or brochure without consent, and you will have damaged your relationship. Getting permission is easy. To quote a client, send a standa...
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