Tips from the world's best salesman

Advertising for small businesses is a tricky, um, business. Where do you spend money when you don't have much money to spend? Should you focus on local magazines and newspapers? Should you spend every spare pound you have on Google Adwords or Facebook ads? The good news is that you don't actually need to spend much money in order to grow your leads and create much more revenue for your small business.

The technique I am talking about comes straight from the playbook of the world's best salesman, as verified by being placed in the Guinness Book of World Records. Joe Girard sold 13 001 cars at a Chevrolet dealership between 1963 and 1978. He sold 1425 cars in 1973 alone and in one month sold 174 cars! Joe Girard passed away this year but his record will remain in the record books for all time since Guinness recently retired the category. 

How did he do it? Did he have a marketing agency working closely with him? Did he have an army of people canvassing the local area? Did he spend thousands on advertising in newspapers? No, no and no. Joe found customers and closed sales using one simple factor, referrals. You may think this is crazy. How could one man make so many sales just from referrals alone? Well, he used a technique unfamiliar to most of us in this modern dog-eat-dog world, he took an active interest in the lives of his prospects. You see, once Joe had the details of a potential lead he would send them cards, not cards raving about the latest sale or about how great his company was, just greeting cards. 

He would send every single person he had ever dealt with a card at Christmas, another at New Year, another for their birthday. In fact, Joe kept a database of every prospect's name, address, telephone number, spouse's birthday, children's birthday and more. More than this, he never sent them mass mailings. Each card was written by Joe directly to that person. So why was this technique so successful? By taking an active interest in their lives, Joe was able to build a tremendous amount of trust with his customers. After the third or fourth card from Joe, he was top of their minds when they next needed a car. They did not bother shopping around, they went straight to him because they felt this was a man they could trust, and if they could trust him they knew he would give them the best deal on the best car for them. Nothing more than that.

How to replicate Joe's technique

1) Follow up

Call your client within a week of providing a service to them. If they are happy with the service, ask them right there and then for a referral, if they are unhappy, ask how you may fix the problem. Note: where possible, ask the customer for an introduction to the lead and not just simply a name and number. The prospective lead will be much more willing to do business with you when they have been told about your service from a trusted friend or relative rather than a cold call from a stranger.

2) Keep yourself in their thoughts

Send emails and occasionally cards (who does not enjoy opening hand-written mail?) to your clients to let them know they are in your thoughts and you care about their well-being.

3) Upsell your services

It is far easier to sell to someone who has bought from you before. Occasionally send your past clients informed about new services or special offers. Don't be pushy in your communication, just let them know you have a service that may be of value to them. If you are a plumber, you can look at selling them an annual service contract for their boiler for a reduced fee. This creates recurring revenue without you constantly having to look for clients.

4) Avoid mass communication

If you use a mass-emailing service like MailChimp, make sure that you personalise each message with the customer's name. Joe would hand-write each card he sent. If it is feasible for you to send out individual emails to your clients then do so. They will appreciate the personal touch.

5) Provide great service to keep them coming back

All of this is for naught without great service from your end to back it up. You need a system to keep your work organised and your on-site staff scheduled. That is where we come in. IntelliServe is an application for managing work, quotes, invoices and, of course, leads. Developed by a services company to solve the issues associated with managing these aspects of a services business. It is ideal for plumbers, electricians, roof repair, HVAC, in fact, any company that routinely calls on clients to perform work at their premises. Email me for an online demo and a free assessment of your business's processes or visit our website