Often overlooked “easy” leads can be found within your Natural Market by Following Your Dollar. To source these easy leads you need to pull out your calendar for the past 6 months and your bank statements and/or checkbook. Identify the small business owners you give your business to. Examples of these prospects are your hairdresser/
If you identify your top 5 service providers, estimate how much money you have spent with them over the length of your relationship with them. For example an executive will average $50 per month for dry cleaning. That’s $600 per year. If you have referred others to your dry cleaner, that is more money per year for your favorite cleaner. Now multiply that number by how many years you have been doing business with him/her. Do you think that maybe they value your business? Of course they do!
Next you need to plan your approach. I cannot stress enough how important it is to strategically map out your dialogue with your service providers before you approach them for their personal business and referrals. You should think about the following:
1. Begin with the end in mind, what are you asking them for? Personal business or referrals?
2. When and where do you want to ask them for their business and/or referrals?
3. How are you going to ask them?
a. Tell them how much you have enjoyed doing business with them
b. Remind them how long you’ve been doing business with them
c. Name drop folks who you have referred to them in the past
d. Explain that you are looking for their support with either their own business, or by making referrals to you from their own database
4. Anticipate what their objections might be in advance and prepare a response that helps them re-frame their thought process
Most small business owners will give a good long term client their attention and consideration. Your business is important to them. At the conclusion of your meeting with them, agree on the next steps to move forward if they agree to do business with you or to give you referrals. Establish the follow up date and meeting agenda. If they do not respond favorably to your request for reciprocating business or sharing referrals, you now know that you should probably take your business somewhere else. Confrontation is nothing more than a collision with the truth. You can say something like “Thank you for taking the time to consider my request. I should let you know that I am looking to do business with people who do business with me. After our meeting, I’m forced to consider taking my business and referrals to your competitor.”
Approaching people you already do business with to do business with you increases your own profitability and strengthens your relationship with them. This is the foundation of economic development. Now go follow your dollar!