October 15/22, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 9
By Jim Augustus Armstrong
(First of three parts)
We all know the pitfalls of “buying” leads from popular online referral services: You have no control over the type (or quality) of leads; you have to influence over how the leads are generated; leads sold to you are often sold to your competitors; and, generally speaking, buying leads does not usually foster long-term relationships with prospects.
Retailers need to generate solid leads to grow their business. That’s a given. So, over the next several installments I’m going to reveal proven lead-generation strategies you can put to work in your own business.
What if I told you I could get you a list of leads that’s superior in every way to purchased leads? These leads are: 1) proven buyers of flooring; 2) folks that trust you more than purchased leads; 3) people who have a shorter path-to-purchase; 4) prospects that are much less likely to haggle over price; 5) consumers who are more likely to send you referrals; and 6) people who are much more pleasant to work with.
Oh, and you can get them for free.
I’m talking about your list of past customers. These are, without a doubt, the highest quality leads on the planet. You can’t buy leads anywhere that even come close to matching the quality of your past customer list. Past customers are like having your own personal gold mine. The problem is, only a tiny minority of dealers ever mine their gold.
It always seems ironic to me when I talk to a dealer who is spending thousands of dollars per year buying leads (e.g., the names and phone numbers of total strangers) while totally ignoring their past customers. That’s insanity. And yet the vast majority of dealers don’t market to their past customers.
However, if this describes you, it’s not entirely your fault. Dealers are subjected to an endless deluge of hype and misinformation put out by marketing companies about the best ways to get new customers. I’ve helped hundreds of dealers to tap their respective gold mines by marketing to their past customers, and the results are sometimes jaw-dropping. I’ve seen dealers come back from the brink of bankruptcy to open a second store, increase their margins and double or triple their revenue over several years.
That’s the power of marketing to your past customers. So, before buying leads, market to the ones you already have. It can change your business and your life. I’ve seen it happen many times.
Power of referrals
When Cathy Consumer begins shopping for floors, it’s almost like she’s expecting a baby. She’s excited about it, she talks to her friends and co-workers about it. It’s a big, happy disruption to her life. In all of her discussions with her circle in the weeks leading up to the purchase and installation, it’s a really good bet that at least one person has said, “Hey, we need new floors, too. Who are you getting yours from? Let us know how they do.”
This is why you should train all of your salespeople to ask for—and generate—referrals from every completed installation. Think about it: you’ve done a great job, provided outstanding service, and Cathy Consumer now has beautiful new floors. She loves you. This is the perfect time to ask for and get referrals.
In the next installment, I’ll cover online strategies for generating high-quality leads from the Internet.