The Entrepreneur’s Nightmare: Where is the next sale coming from?

The worst feeling in business is where you don’t know where the next sale is coming from. I know, I’ve felt it. Nowadays the panic sets in from time to time, but usually it is irrational.

But I remember what it is like when it was real and I had every right to be panicked – from days selling roof restorations. Lying awake staring at ceiling. Panic creeping in from the darkest recesses of your sub conscious. Wondering what would happen if I got sick and couldn’t work for a week. You feel like you’ve got nobody to turn to. You know tomorrow you’ve got to put it all aside, go and knock on doors and beg for work until you’ve gotten your 3 appointments booked…

I don’t know which is worse, knowing that if you want to stay in the game, you need to be out there knocking on doors. Or actual knocking on doors, hour after hour, wondering which one would be the one that finally relented and gave me that last appointment so I could go home.

Back then I operated in a very limited way. You knocked on doors, sold a roof restoration, then knocked on some more doors. Rinse and Repeat until death – I couldn’t see a way to get rich doing this.

Most of us live some form of this nightmare at some point. And breaking the cycle should be a priority for every entrepreneur. Lead generation systems are one of the ways to do it. But there is a better one.

What I didn’t know then that I understand better now is that existing customers are also a source of sales. If you set your business up correctly then you’ve got a second avenue to generate your next sale.

It is far easier to get an existing customer to buy something from you than to get a new customer to make a first purchase with you. You can thank Bain and Company for that factoid. It is vital to understand that distinction because if you are wondering where your next sale is coming from I can guarantee you that most people think in terms of new customers and that sales from existing customers are ignored.

What opportunities can you think of to get your next sale from an existing customer? I’ve come up with a short list of ideas from my existing customers.


Creating More Cross Selling Opportunities

A while ago now I did a day of consulting with a client to explore how we could grow his business.

Not all that unusual in and of itself until the discussion turned to the customers which are hardest to find, take the longest to convert and are the least profitable to my client.

Yet despite those ‘underwhelming endorsements’ of this market segment couldn’t be left alone. My client’s interest in the market segment bordered on obsession.

When you break it down – it would cost him the same amount of money or more to develop the marketing materials in order to go and get these clients as it would to get the marketing materials prepared so he could more effective get more of his best types of customers.

I’ve had clients with a problem like this before and it has made it really difficult to work with them and has sabotaged results before. So I was a little gun shy to be honest.

However, once we stopped looking at that market segment as one-off buyers for my client’s product and looked at who was made up the market and what else we could sell them. Then all of a sudden it became a really interesting proposition.

For confidentiality reasons I won’t go into the specifics. But I will guide you through the thinking because it is instructive for finding additional products and services you can offer.

We started talking about who they were – sociographics, psychographics and demographics.

We explored the problems they were having, specifically why they were interested in my client’s products and services.

Then we started to talk about the bigger picture of the market. What else needed to be brought together in order to serve the market.

We realised that this market actually needed information as much as it did the physical products my client sold. So we started to look at the information they needed. Ultimately, we discovered they wanted a sense of community – others like themselves because they didn’t like doing what they were doing by themselves.

This to me is a more expansive way to approach cross selling. Most of us think about what products and services we have already and try to stuff them down our existing customers’ throats.

I don’t think that is the best way to look at it. Cross selling is best done on a market by market basis within your business.

This approach opens up many more opportunities for cross selling and also a higher uptake of your offers, while at the same time giving you a much stronger bond with your market.