3 Ignored Sales Strategies for Lead Generation

Time to implement: Days

Difficulty: Medium

Cost to Implement: Less than $100

If you’re looking to get new customers fast, then you want to focus on a direct marketing strategy that includes personal selling.  If you’re like most small business owners, you’ve done your share of personal selling, and you probably hate it.  But here’s the deal, if you follow a solid process, as described in this article, you’ll find yourself feeling more confident and being more successful.

You Have Immediate Access to New Customers

Everyone in sales is ultimately chasing the same thing: profitable leads. This can be the most frustrating part of being in sales, and inefficiency seems inescapable. Reliably turning cold traffic into promising leads is the holy grail of sales, but it’s incredibly difficult to pull off.

However, salespeople are already sitting on a goldmine of warm prospects just waiting to be brought into the fold. There are three sources you can turn to that have proven to be profitable time after time, and they’ve been right under your nose all along.

Source #1: Your Power Base

Your power base should always be your go-to source for leads. Create your power base by simply writing down every single person you know, from your address book, email or otherwise. Find everyone who likes you, trusts you, or even just knows you. Some might object to this concept because they feel uncomfortable mixing business with their friends and family. Most people who say this are either broke or are trapped in a poverty mentality.

The secret is to approach this powerful inner circle with tact, and not to pressure anyone into anything they don’t want to do.

Once you’ve written down absolutely everyone you know, organize it into your first, second and third circle of friends and acquaintances. Your first circle is comprised of your closest relationships. They know you well, know what you do, and have an 80% chance of buying from you. Those in the second circle kind of know you, and maybe 20% would buy from you. Everyone else goes in the third circle. These are those you don’t know well (yet) and have less than a ten percent chance of buying from you.

Your task is to cultivate your power base and turn as many people as you can into first circle relationships. Start off by calling your first circle and catching up on your relationship. Talk with them about what you’re doing and ask if they know anyone who might be interested in that kind of thing. This is where a good amount of new leads lie since 80% of these people have a chance of buying from you if the timing is right.

Even if they don’t take you up on the offer personally these calls can be a great source of referrals, which you can start bringing into your power base.

Once you’ve called everyone in the first circle, get your second circle on the phone. You don’t know these people as well, so have a similar conversation with them but invite them to have lunch with you. Once you break bread with these people, they’re on their way to being in your first circle. The third circle is your most casual acquaintances and you don’t know them all that well. Send them a postcard saying “Hey there, haven’t spoken in a while and wanted to reach out – let’s do lunch!”.

Let them call you, and when they do you can bring them into your second circle and eventually into your inner circle.

Always develop better and better ties with your power base and watch it turn into your best source of leads. Too many salespeople either forget about their power bases or give up on them.

This is where they fail, as a well-crafted power base is your main source of power. These people are the “who” in the saying it’s not what you know, but who you know that gets you ahead in life. Do everything you can to broaden your base: look for country clubs, tennis clubs, golf clubs, or the best gym or spa in town to increase the quality and quantity of your network.

Source #2: Your Existing Customers

The next best lead source for your sales efforts is your company’s existing lead database or book of business. These customers have already proven their willingness to purchase from you or your company. They already like the company or the brand, and repeat customers are seven times easier to sell to compared to cold traffic.

The truth is that virtually no company on Earth can reliably transmute cold traffic into sales gold time after time. Cold traffic is where most marketing and sales people go for new revenue, but at the end of the day, it’s a wild animal that can never be tamed!

Cold traffic is nearly impossible to understand and always changing, making whatever currently works in marketing quickly outdated.

Mastering cold traffic is the biggest prize there is and every company wants to crack the code, but almost none can do it efficiently. Your valuable time is better spent on more fruitful endeavors. Therefore, turning your sights on those who have already bought will maximize your returns on the time you invest in generating leads.

Consider reaching out to these audiences in a variety of ways. Most customers would love to hear a quick call from the customer service team of a company they recently bought from. It gives you a chance to solicit feedback on how their account is doing and inform them of any new developments or offers. They can also be a fantastic source of new business and referrals, as a customer who feels valued is likely to share your names with others.

Source #3: Smart Outbound Cold Calling

While cold calling gets a bad name, there is value to be found in outbound cold calling. In real estate acquisitions, it’s normal for successful salespeople to cold call fifty realtors every day. Strong relationships are built through communication, and the first step to working new leads into your power base is to get your foot in the door. The key is to not solely rely on cold calling to drive your lead generation, as it takes a lot of effort to get through to a small number of people.

Consider picking up the newspaper (which does in fact still exist) and call companies with ads that relate to your industry, such as looking for contractor advertisements if you sell things to contractors. However, this is a highly niche strategy and will need to adapt to each sales position and industry separately.

Entrepreneur and billionaire Bill Bartmann used to say “If you want to catch a fish, most people would go to the ocean, a river, a lake, or a stream. I say go to a fish farm.” Rather than going through the effort of outfitting a boat with everything necessary to catch an uncertain quantity of fish, go to where you’re guaranteed to come away with an abundance of fish. To work smarter in sales, find the “fish farm” for your niche, and pay something to get inside.

It’s usually worth the cost of admission, and you can take some of the guesswork out of your to-do list.

Maintaining a constant flow of new sales takes skill, but it’s a mistake to think of cold calling as your make or break strategy.

The key to profitable sales leads is to leverage those you already know and supplement with strategic and intelligent cold outreach. Mastering these techniques is critical to becoming an efficient (and profitable) salesperson.

10 DIY Content Creation Tools to Get it Done Faster

If you’re producing content daily, an arsenal of tools and resources can make the difference in the amount of time you spend creating it. Trying to edit your content for readability and comprehension? There’s an app for that. Have a question about grammar? There’s a website Harvard recommends.

Whatever your writing struggle, there are content creation tools and resources that are free or available for a minimal cost that can assist you. Read on to discover the top ten resources that can help you in meeting your daily content quota faster while maintaining premium quality.

1. Try Cold Turkey to Minimize Distractions

Sometimes I sit down at the computer to write and I think of the appointment I need to cancel next Friday, the promotional email I received from my favorite clothing retailer that morning and what I need to pick up from the store for dinner. Basically, I think of anything but writing and inevitability instead of staying on task, I find myself looking up the doctor’s phone number, browsing sweaters, or adding ingredients for a soup I saw on Instagram to a digital shopping cart.

Even if you’re more disciplined, it can be hard to ignore a social media notification or the ding of another email coming through. It’s not uncommon for distractions to creep in and suck up all our productive time. Thankfully, there are ways to combat some of those distractions.

Cold Turkey was created to minimize time spent on distractions. A blocking tool, it can temporarily block sites and give you timers to help you be more productive. They offer a free basic version or you can get more bells and whistles for a reasonable one-time payment.

2. Use TED Talks for Inspiration

Maybe distractions aren’t your downfall, but you struggle to get your creative juices flowing instead. Carlton Cuse, screenwriter and producer, has a playlist of TED Talks to help you out with your content creation process. In his words, “These talks have inspired me to create, in my writing or in my life.” Ranging from 4 to 23 minutes, these talks take a small time investment which could reap big dividends in helping you with your next writing campaign.

As stated on their website, TED’s “agenda is to make great ideas accessible and spark conversation.” With talks on writing, creating and more, you’re sure to find a talk or two or five to help you start thinking and putting to paper your next content piece.

3. Try Trello to Stay Organized

Sometimes motivation can simply come from being ready. And Trello can help you get ready. It’s a free tool (with advanced subscription options charging a fee) you can use to manage different projects and assignments. With apps for the web as well as iPhone and Android devices, Trello is easy to access and popular with users. As highlighted in many reviews, Trello is the kind of tool that employees bring to work and then convince their colleagues and friends to use too.

Its popularity has led to over 25 million sign ups. With over 1 million people using it daily, Trello obviously fills a need. Have an editorial calendar to organize? Give Trello a shot.

4. The Library of Congress is a Great Source of Credible Research

While not necessary for every type of writing, research plays a key role in many a content piece. Googling might be everyone’s go to for finding a piece of data or an obscure fact. But don’t forget about the library. A good place to start is the Library of Congress.

With many of their resources accessible on their website, it can provide curated, reliable answers to your research questions. With everything from ballroom dance instruction manuals to baseball cards, the library’s digital collections are vast and informative.

The website also has other useful features such as the “free to use and reuse” section. This section features digital items (typically images) that are free to use and reuse. With themes like bridges, bicycles, holidays and more, you might find an image that’s perfect to accompany a writing piece on a blog or newsletter.

5. Use Timers to Stay Focused

You’ve minimized your distractions and have the inspiration you need. Now it’s time to write. To keep yourself on task, use a timer like the Marinara Timer. This online timer website has a few different options, one of the most popular being a Pomodoro timer.

The Pomodoro technique, established by Francesco Cirillo a few decades ago, is a time management method that allows for timed work intervals separated by breaks. For more about the technique and how it can apply to your writing check out testimonials and more on Cirillo’s site here.

Whatever time management technique you use, a timer can help keep you on track for periods of time and remind you that you’re on the clock.

You’ve started writing, but a question about language usage or grammar stops you for a moment. Need an expert to answer your question? Try Mignon Fogarty. If you visit the Harvard College Writing Center webpage, you’ll find a list of writing resources produced to help students succeed. They also list two useful writing resources outside Harvard. One of those is Grammar Girl.

Created by Fogarty, Grammar Girl is housed within Quick and Dirty Tips, a network created to help people with everything from time and money management to performance improvement in the workplace.

Grammar Girl offers advice via hundreds of podcast episodes and thousands of articles. If you find yourself with some downtime on your commute or need some background noise in the office, Grammar Girl can arm you with the grammatical and usage knowledge we often forget.

7. Read Grammar Girl Tips for Help

If podcasts or online articles aren’t your thing, you can pick up a copy of Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. A New York Times bestseller, the book offers tips in an easy to read and entertaining format. Littered with examples and sprinkled with amusing drawings the book can answer questions about word usage, punctuation and more.

8. Keep a Real Dictionary Close at Hand

In addition to language and grammar help, no writer should be without a quality dictionary and a thesaurus. If you’re book-friendly, I suggest getting a set of books and storing them within arm’s length. Merriam-Webster offers an Everyday Language Reference Set, which includes a dictionary, thesaurus and a vocabulary builder volume.

If you’re pressed for space or simply prefer the speed of the internet over hardbacks and paperbacks, then you can simply bookmark dictionary.com and thesaurus.com. Easy to use, these websites can help you find the exact word you need.

9. Use Color-Coded Editing

After crafting your content, Hemingway is an easy to use app that makes revisions a breeze. You can create content in the “write” mode. When you’re ready to revise, simply switch over to “edit”. Using color codes, the app highlights areas that might need improvement. From run-on sentences to word choice, this app can make your editing life easier. It also conveniently gives you a readability score and a word count.

Version 3 of the desktop app was recently released and if you’re writing daily, skipping a few coffees to shell out the one-time cost of $19.99 is well worth it.

10. Write or Die

Sometimes a little prodding can help. Write or Die is another productivity app (available on the web or for Apple devices, with an Android version coming soon) that can help you stay on task.

Probably better suited for longer pieces of content writing, the app allows you to input goals and then depending on the mode you select will gently remind to keep writing if you stop. In a harsher mode, it starts erasing words.

Version 2 is currently up and running, but feel free to try version 3, currently in beta mode.

How to Create a Customer Loyalty Program on a Budget

“Some people sell things so they can have customers — a smart business has customers so you can sell them things.” Dan Kennedy

Customer Loyalty Programs are a Profit Building Marketing Strategy

You already know that existing customers are more profitable customers.  The general assumption is that loyal customers purchase from you over and over again.  And, if you have a great product or service, customer loyalty will just happen automatically.  This is only partially true.

What you may not have considered is that existing customers who purchase across your entire product line are even more profitable, more loyal and more likely to refer your business to friends and family.

If your goal is to increase your profit margins, increase sales to existing customers and sell additional products and services to existing customers – consider instituting a Customer Loyalty Program as part of your sales strategy.

Look. Customers can be loyal as a habit. And this type of purchasing behavior can expose you to risk. Restaurants and retail shops understand this all too well; this is the customer that comes in frequently and always gets the same thing.  Their purchasing behavior is a habit, but if you suddenly eliminate this product or service or change something, you run the risk of losing that customer forever.

What is a Customer Loyalty Program?

A customer loyalty program is a marketing tactic that uses a system of structured rewards for customers in exchange for desired behaviors. They use the psychological principles of reciprocity, commitment and loss aversion to understand, reward and retain existing customers.

A great customer loyalty program fulfills on three typical marketing challenges and marketing goals:

  1. Increasing customer retention and lifetime value
  2. Selling, cross-selling and upselling more products and services to existing customers (which increases your profits)
  3. Understanding and profiling your ideal customer – because loyalty programs naturally capture your customers’ purchasing data and information.

Creating an easy-to-use customer loyalty program is a great marketing tactic if you have a decent number of customers, but they are stuck in rut or habit of buying specific products or services and not trying more profitable, more expensive products or services that might benefit them.

What are the different types of customer loyalty programs?

Each of the customer loyalty program types here are ideal for solving a particular marketing challenge.  Read through each one and see which one sounds like one that could help you overcome that challenge or meet a marketing goal.

Points-Based to Increase Purchase Frequency

Points-based programs are the most common type of loyalty program. Customers earn points for every purchase they make which can then be redeemed against rewards, credits, discounts towards purchases of other products or services, or free services. Ideal for businesses with frequent, low-cost purchases who want to increase the number of times customers purchase from them.

Use Wilbur Rewards to implement a points-based customer rewards program. When customers earn enough points, they receive an instant cash reward and their points return to zero automatically. Customers use their phone number to pay for their purchase at their next visit. Instant Reward Programs are perfect for the majority of businesses, especially if your business has a simple pricing structure, small ticket items and regular repeat purchases. This type of program easily replaces a punch card, reducing fraud.

Wilbur Rewards also has an “extra points” option which is ideal for providing your customers an incentive to purchase at specific dates and times or when you want customers to try a new product or service.

Tier-Based to Increase Upsells and Higher Dollar Purchases

The tier-based system encourages repeat purchases and higher value purchases in order for the customer to get access to higher value rewards.

Basic participation entitles the customer to a basic reward such as a discount. In order to get bigger, better rewards, customers have to increase the frequency and value of their purchases. This loyalty program works best for high commitment and high priced businesses. A great example is the Sephora makeup brands loyalty program.

You can implement this strategy quickly and easily with Wilbur Rewards as well. Wilbur members can save points until they want to cash in their points for a prize. Loyalty reward points are only redeemed when members decide to cash in. Graduated rewards are perfect for businesses with a wide variety of customer spending habits and frequencies. By offering different prize levels, you can keep every customer interested and feeling appreciated.

Values-Based to Find and Create Brand Ambassadors

If you’re a purpose-driven business with a set of core values and you’re looking for customers who share those values who can ultimately serve as brand ambassadors, this is a type of customer loyalty program for you.

For this program to work, your values and beliefs have to be a core part of your marketing message and then you have to find a way to reward your customers in a way that fulfills on your shared values.

A great example of this type of customer loyalty program is Warby Parker, Bombas, and Tom’s Footwear.  All of these brands will donate their products to less fortunate customers for every product that you purchase.  The more you purchase, the more you help others.  It’s a great way to help your customers feel good about themselves.

Popular for certain target audiences. Understanding your customers means understanding their values and lifestyle.

Depending on your brand and your target audience values you may offer a non-monetary reward as a result of your customer purchase.

Partnership Programs (Coalition loyalty) to Support Referral Relationships

This type of loyalty program is a great way to support and build referral partnerships between businesses who share the same ideal customer.

In a partnership or coalition loyalty program, you reward your customers with benefits from a partner business. For example, a real estate agent may have a partnership with a cleaning company or an insurance agent,  Or a bank might have a partnership with a restaurant or a hair stylist may have a partnership with a clothing store.

Paid Program – Membership Program to Increase Profits

This is one of my favorite types of customer loyalty programs because you literally get paid TWICE! Once, when the customer pays their membership fee and the second time when they actually make a purchase using some of the discount options for the program that they are in.

The best example of a successful paid loyalty program has to be Amazon Prime.  You pay an annual fee and in return, you get free shipping, discounts on products and monthly free deals with books.

A good example comes from the restaurant industry, but can be applied to almost any business.  You create one or several different VIP member packages that include free offers and discounts at a tiered level.  Then you host a monthly event for members only and invite them to bring a friend.  This grows your membership and repeat business.

Gift Card Program or Spend Program to Drive Traffic to Your Store

Another popular option is using a customer loyalty gift card program.. Sometimes this is called a spend program. This is an often overlooked customer loyalty strategy because businesses “feel” like they are giving product or money away for free. But this is a myth. Gift card loyalty programs not only drive existing customers to your store, these customers actually will purchase more than the gift card amount.

The basic idea is that your customers receive a gift card after they reach a certain purchase amount over a time period.  Some businesses offer a gift card from their business (which provides an incentive for a customer to return and purchase more products and services) and sometimes they provide a gift card to a partner if they are running a partnership program.

Use this customer loyalty strategy to drive additional traffic to your store.

Hybrid Loyalty Programs

Of course, you can create a customer loyalty program that merges several different types of programs This is called a hybrid loyalty program.

The most common combination is that of point-based system with a tier program as it makes the calculation of points easy for the customers and encourages them to pursue next loyalty level and thus, more purchases.

How to choose/create a customer loyalty program?

When it comes to choosing or creating a customer loyalty program for your business, there’s no doubt that it has to be:

  1. Easy to Use
  2. Customizable to your business
  3. Provide customer information that you can use in your marketing
  4. Low-cost and easy to implement and manage
  5. Provide a great customer experience, so that they use it.

But how do you actually choose the right loyalty program for your business? It’s not as overwhelming or expensive as you might think.  If you follow these steps in order, you’ll find that the right choice will jump out at you.

WARNING — do not skip ahead and try to pick a software first, you will get confused and overwhelmed because there are different types of customer loyalty program software systems based on the type of program you are running

  1. Run your financials.  Reach out to your accountant or bookkeeper and get a firm understanding of who your most profitable customers are (and what they buy) and what your most profitable products and services are (and who buys them).  Get a firm understanding of your costs and profit margins so that you can make intelligent decisions on what level of discounts you can offer.
  2. Determine what marketing challenges you are overcoming or what marketing goals you’ve set for yourself. Once you’ve run the numbers and reviewed them, you will have some firm marketing goals or challenges.
  3. Decide on how you want your customer to engage with your loyalty program. This is an important element of your choice because different loyalty program software solutions require different levels of engagement and work for your customer.  You need to know your customer and how they are most likely to engage with your software. Some customer loyalty software platforms require your customer to use an app, while others only require that they have a phone number.
  4. Match the loyalty program to your marketing goals.  The next step is to match the goal you are trying to achieve with a loyalty program that will deliver. For example, if you have lots of customers purchasing a low-profit item.  Maybe you want to shift them over to another higher-priced product or service that they will prefer and where you will make more money.  In that case, you can choose a tier-based program or use a points program to reward them with this higher-profit offer.

That’s basically all there is to it.  With the appropriate loyalty program tactic in hand, it’s time to find a technology tool or customer loyalty program software that will help you manage this program.

How to Find the Right Customer Loyalty Software for Your Business

You’ve decided on your customer loyalty program, now you need a customer loyalty software to help you implement it and manage it.  This can get a little challenging if you don’t even know what to search for and how to choose a system.

Step 1: Research your options

The customer loyalty program space is extremely cluttered.  In other words, it’s going to be really, really hard to find an all-inclusive list of all the software that’s out there.

Your research phase will take a little while as you get a lay of the land.  Here are a few tips to help you along.

Answer these questions before you go searching:

  • How many people will be using it
  • What industry you are in
  • Specific features or functions you want (points, membership,
  • Is it web-based (Saas) or installed on a computer
  • Which mobile platforms does it need to run on (Android or iOS)

Answering these questions will keep you focused on your search as you’ll need to search on Google, industry databases, etc. to get a list that you’re happy with.

2. Visit software directories to get seed names

Now that you know what you want, visit sites like GetApp, Capterra.com and G2Crowd to see what companies and software are listed on those directories.  In my research for this article, I felt that Capterra was the better choices as they have a clear cut category for “Customer Loyalty Software” and filters available to help you narrow down your choices. However, G2Crowd doesn’t have categories or filters, but when I searched on “customer loyalty software” I received about 200 listings. Both Capterra and G2Crowd have customer reviews that will help you get a better understanding of what each platform offers.

3. Ask your industry association

If you belong to an industry association, it’s not a bad idea to reach out to them and simply ask what platforms they recommend for their members, you may even get some special discounts.

In this article, I’ve laid out a simple step-by-step process for you to implement your customer loyalty program.  While I did provide resources for you to research and choose a customer loyalty software, I’ve also recommended Wilbur Rewards as a customer loyalty software because it’s an ideal, low-risk, easy to start platform for the most basic rewards programs.

Don’t let another year go by without leveraging the power and profitability of your existing customers.  Use a customer loyalty program to reward your loyal customers for their purchases, to start gathering data about your ideal customers’ preferences and (this is my favorite) to cross sell more profitable products to your existing customers.