This week I’m sharing another excerpt from my book Stop Your Paycheck Addiction. One of the best ways to market a small business and especially a home-based business is to ask for referrals. You may not need any other marketing strategy when you have enough referrals.
But getting your referrals started off is tricky. You have to ask the people who know you best to refer you. The section of my book I’m sharing tells why you should not try to sell to the people you know best. (Note: I use the abbreviation TT&P to mean time, talents and products.)
No Selling Allowed
Now hear me on this: don’t try to convince people you know to be your customers. Making a sales pitch to everyone you know will make you a social leper. Ask for referrals instead.
This will do two things. The people you talk to won’t be in the awkward position to tell you “no” when they don’t want what you’re selling. Rather than being offended, they’ll be flattered that you consider them a person of influence. And the funny thing is that they’ll buy from you if they want your TT&P.
I’m sure there’s a psychological explanation for this phenomenon. People who will flat refuse to listen to your sales pitch will turn around and buy from you if you talk about their friends who might want your stuff.
Just put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Think how you feel when someone tries to sell you something. Do feel the resistance building up in your gut even now? The same thing happens to your friends when you accost them with a sales pitch.
But imagine someone asking you for an introduction to your circle of influence. They tell you about their TT&P. They ask if you know anyone interested. It’s easy for you think about buying from them because you “discovered” something you want in a non-threatening context.
Now, I’m not suggesting you use this tactic as a ploy to sell to the people you know. Be honest and serious in your request for referrals. If the people you know want to buy from you, then that’s just a bonus.
You probably know about 150 or so people. A handful of them will be potential customers. But each of the people you know also knows 150 — that’s 22,500 prospects. That’s a boat-load of potential customers, enough to keep you busy for a while.
Keep Asking for Referrals
I don’t like being sold. I imagine you don’t either. I mentioned this same point in a previous post in the context of networking groups. But you are always networking when you have home-based business. Everyone you talk to could be a referral source.
Random conversations I’ve had in the checkout line sometimes result in me passing my card to someone. Mind you, I don’t intentionally steer these conversations to ask for referrals.
The Artist went to see a prospect this week who got our name from a local Home Depot. This was not the store we shop at, where the entire paint department know us well. It was a neighboring store. We rarely shop there, and we can’t think how anyone there would know of us.
But we’ve built our business by referral. I carry business cards with my drivers licence. I’m always ready if I find a chance to talk about our business. Always doing a little networking here and there is better than occasional massive efforts when you’re desperate for business.
The Bullet Points
- Carry business cards always.
- Have your elevator pitch polished and ready.
- Watch for opportunities in random conversations.
- Restrain yourself. Don’t start selling.
- Ask for referrals instead of selling.
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