Start Your Sales Engine!

By: Kimberly Stevens

Does your business run on a sales engine or a sales effort? A sales effort is something that has to be done every time you want to make a sale. But, a sales engine is something that, once put into place, can bring you sale after sale without added effort. Here are a couple of examples …

A photographer gets to know a handful of bridal consultants that refer every new bride they meet to him. Each time they get a new client, he has the opportunity to get a phone call from that bride without having lifted a finger.

A home cleaning company establishes a relationship with organizations that provide temporary corporate housing for companies with newly relocated employees. The temporary housing companies contact the cleaning company each time they have a person vacate one of their units so they can prepare it for the next resident. Since the nature of the residences is temporary, they have a continual need for cleaning services.

In both of these examples, instead of spending valuable (potentially billable) work time on marketing, these companies are earning money. And during the time they do spend on marketing, they are focused on developing long-term relationships with sources of continual referral instead of tracking down each individual purchaser.

In the cleaning company example, they could be running classified ads, taking calls, visiting individual homes to provide cleaning estimates, etc. But all that effort only results in one job. There is an opportunity to clean each temporary residence 3-4 times per year. Multiply that figure by the number of units the temporary housing company manages, and you’ve got some regular business rolling in. And all from one relationship. Now, that’s a sales engine!

In the case of the photographer, the service is not being performed for the bridal consultants. It’s being performed for their clients. So, rather than being a repeat-service relationship, it is a referral relationship. However, it is not reciprocal. By the time the photographer hears from brides, they have already started planning the other elements of their wedding, so it’s too late to refer them to the bridal consultants he knows. But, he could reward the bridal consultants with a referral fee that he creates by either discounting his services when dealing with those brides they refer to him or by marking his services up by 15%.

Despite all the stories you hear, most business owners are honest people who have the desire to treat their customers fairly. In the case of the photographer, the bridal consultants provide the brides with a list of photographers that they can choose from. This allows the bride to make her own decision based on quality/price rather than being pushed into a relationship with a particular photographer.

Would you prefer to invest your time in building a relationship that brings you sale after sale or one that brings you a one-shot sale? It’s not magic. It’s not a get-rich quick scheme. It’s a simple key to business success.

So, the question is .. are you going to spend this afternoon pitching one account that could lead to one job or building a relationship that could lead to several jobs? Don’t get me wrong -- it can take more than an afternoon to establish the most ideal relationships. But, in more cases than not, it’s no more difficult to form this one relationship than it is to form any other.

Start your sales engine!

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