If you haven’t already, please read this article about referrals. Have you thought about what your business will look like 3 years from now? It used to be that ‘long term’ meant 10-20 years out, the internet has changed the world. When something happens, whether you think it’s noteworthy or not, the event can spawn 1000’s of tweets per second. Check out this ‘best of’ list. It’s not just about speed, though. Think about the quantity of information available. Go to your favorite search engine and type in “Who is ____?” or “What is ____?” or “How many ____?” and you’ll probably have millions of articles in a fraction of a second.
Let me make three points.
In the article on referrals, Mutt clearly used the wrong approach. He not only wasted a referral and blew up a prospect, but he ended a relationship with a potentially valuable center of influence. Isn’t that happening today? Do you check your spam/junk mail folder? Aren’t those people using the wrong approach? Haven’t they blown up a prospect by being relegated to the junk mail folder? How many blog articles have you seen lately that are strictly a sales pitch? I use the word ‘seen’ because most people don’t want to be ‘sold’ and as soon as they see the pitch they reach for the ‘delete’ button and maybe the ‘unsubscribe’ link and there goes a potential valuable center of influence. How much Twitter spam do you read? Somebody that I used to read tweeted 36 times yesterday. I read none of them. They have 1000’s of followers, but how many readers? My point is that there’s a lot of people that think they’re doing inbound marketing, but they’re just using outbound, interruption marketing tactics on an inbound platform and creating ‘noise’ and the noise, for the most part, gets tuned out.
Another change is necessary in our sales process. In the late 70’s I left door to door sales to take a job in a retail furniture store. When I was hired, the store manager confided that salespeople with my experience typically did well. We were used to going out to find our customers. In retail, they came to us. However, the transition from outside sales to retail is not the same as outbound sales to inbound. Retail prospects were typically in their buying process. Inbound prospects may have many more steps in between the day they find you and the day that they realize that they actually want to buy a solution. If you use a 20th century “Hello” on a 21st century lead, you’ll adversely affect your results.
Finally, reflecting back on the opening paragraph, where did most of your sales come from last year and where will most of your sales come from next year. Notice two things. I asked about “sales” not leads. I also ‘skipped’ this year. Although we live in the present, I wanted to you to focus on the past and the future. How much of your business used to come from trade shows, referrals, direct mail, networking, or some other more traditional source? Are your sales from those sources trending up or down? What will happen to those sources next year? Have you begun your inbound marketing effort? Is it truly inbound or are you using outbound knowledge in the inbound world? Are your former sources integrated and feeding your inbound efforts? Are your inbound efforts feeding your trade shows, networking, direct mail and referrals? It’s almost like prospects from different sources speak different languages. Have you taught your referrals how to speak the language of inbound? Do your inbound followers and connections speak the language of referrals? Imagine the evangelism and growth that happens when your different sources start raising your message above the noise of the internet.
Tune in Thursday at noon if you’d like to hear more on 21st Century Networking & Referrals.