Marketing guru Graham McGregor shares his biggest sales blunder—not staying in touch with his referral network.
I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my sales career. Have you?
Graham McGregor, my colleague in New Zealand, is a master at staying in touch. A cool marketing guy and prolific writer, he regularly sends me short e-books. He even sends notes and booklets the old-fashioned way—in the mail. I read every word. His tips are energizing and enlightening. But apparently he hasn’t always been so great at nurturing his network.
Let Graham tell you about his biggest sales blunder…
“When I look back over my 35 years in sales and marketing, there is one big business mistake I wish I had corrected more quickly than I did—not staying in touch with and adding value to three groups of people:
1. My existing clients and customers
This was foolish, because these people were perfectly positioned to make repeat purchases and give me referrals.
2. My potential clients
These were people I had met with or given information to, but who had not bought. I made the mistake of thinking they were not worthwhile contacts. I forgot that people often don’t buy simply because the timing is wrong. And if I had continued to follow up and add value, many of them might have bought from me when the timing was better.
3. Key influencers
These people could each potentially refer large numbers of new clients. For example, when I was selling advertising many years ago, I met with one business person who really liked me. Over a two-year period, he referred dozens of his colleagues and was directly responsible for a huge number of advertising sales. Yet I made the mistake of not reaching out and adding value to him on a regular basis.
I made this mistake again and again, until one of my clients pointed it out.
At the time I worked for a company that sold investment properties. One client, Steve, wrote me a letter saying he was very surprised about not hearing from me after buying. He said he was a good potential source of repeat and referral business and that I should treat him better.
I was embarrassed to get Steve’s letter, because I knew the importance of nurturing my clients. I had just forgotten to do it.
So I started sending every person in my database a personal note with something of value each month—often without ever mentioning my company or business.
For example, I might send a couple free movie passes and a note thanking someone for being a client. Or I might send a personal note with a short article I enjoyed to someone I thought would find it interesting or useful.
Within 12 months of doing this, I started getting calls, emails, and even letters from people telling me how much they appreciated me. I got referrals and repeat sales. And best of all, I strengthened my relationships with many clients and contacts—including Steve, who bought a second investment property and referred another good client.
Within two years of intentionally adding value to everyone in my database, I was getting nearly 70 percent of my monthly sales from repeat sales and referrals.
When you consistently add value, it’s surprising how much easy business starts to come your way.”
What can you do this week to start adding value to your clients, potential clients, and key influencers?
Graham McGregor is a marketing consultant and creator of the 396-page “Unfair Business Advantage Report”—a free e-book which has been read by business owners from 31 countries. Visit www.theunfairbusinessadvantage.com or email Graham at firstname.lastname@example.org.