The City of Salida, Colo., stands in the middle of the state in the Upper Arkansas River Valley, settled in the heart of the Rockies. Lonnie...
"We need more leads, Boss." It never stops. You need leads every day to feed your sales force or they will wither and go somewhere else. Where can you get the leads? Here are a few ideas from clients of ours who have found ways to generate inexpensive leads on a regular basis.
One method to try is a joint venture with another company. Find another company who will share its customers with you. For example, when I got my fuel delivery last week, the invoice the driver left had a flyer stapled to it. The flyer said that the company I buy propane from is so worried about the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning that they would like to give me a free carbon monoxide tester. Wow-image that, someone does care about me. It goes on to say that all I have to do to get the free tester is to call a certain water equipment dealer and have them test my water. That company will bring out the carbon monoxide tester, andat the same time they perform the test.
Let's take a look at how this program works. The water equipment dealer gets to have this flyer dropped off at hundreds of homes with the fuel bill. It doesn't cost the fuel company anything to participate. Are they all great leads? Maybe not, but at least they are all homeowners in the area. Why would the fuel company do this? Maybe to look good to their customers, or maybe for a flat amount of money or an amount per sale. Either way both companies benefit, and the water dealer gets leads at far less than the cost of generating them through newspaper or yellow page ads.
Are there other joint ventures you could participate in? Sure there are. Let your mind wander and see how many situations you can come up with.
For example, there are some companies such as satellite dish or alarm system sales firms who will give away the dish or alarm in exchange for a two-year contract for airtime or alarm monitoring services. Make a deal with them and you could be offering (by mail or print) a free satellite dish or alarm system just for having your water tested.
One dealer tells us that an excellent method is to look for firms that send out newsletters. They are looking for things to put in the newsletter. For example, the dealer found a chiropractor who sent out a monthly newsletter on health and alternative medicine. He wrote an article for the newsletter on the benefits of RO water. The chiropractor put it in the newsletter along with an offer of a special deal on RO units for newsletter recipients. Here's a tip on finding people who put out newsletters: ask local printers.
Why not approach companies that sell dish washers and water heaters? Offer to go to see homeowners who recently purchased these products and test the water at no charge to make sure it is compatible with their new equipment. The equipment seller looks like it is providing a great service, you get to do a demo, and everyone is happy.
Don't overlook the fact that many of these programs can be offered on a simple postcard, which only requires $0.20 postage. Further, many weeklypapers will insert flyers in their paper for as little as four or five cents per flyer. You can get great coverage at a very low price using this technique.
Many of our clients across the country use unusual techniques that work. One dealer has an 800 phone number he advertises in the yellow pages. The number gives callers a two-minute sales pitch on why they need water equipment. He says it works well as a lead generator.
Many dealers swear by yard signs. Every time they get a sale, they ask the homeowner if they can install a sign in the yard that says something like "Another happy family with better water by Acme Water." The cost is next to nothing, and several dealers report good results with this method.
How about referrals? Everyone says they believe in them but few actually work referrals into a significant part of their business. One of our clients has a separate team of "customer satisfaction representatives." They call everyone who bought a system about two weeks after the installation. They explain that their job is to come out and make sure they system is working and answer any questions the customer has. They make an appointment and check the system. Then they show the customer an extended warranty that the customer can buy for $200 or five names and phone numbers of referrals. This system is working very well; it is an excellent way to generate leads. There you have just a few of the ways to never run out of leads without spending a bundle. Give them a try and keep your imagination working overtime.
About the Author:
Carl Davidson is president of Sales & Management Solutions, which provides sales and management training designed exclusively for the water equipment industry. For a free demonstration tape and catalog, contact the company at 800-941-0068. See their website at www.bisonusa.net/salesco/.