When you run a business, you know there are peaks of growth when you have more business than you want; there are also valleys when the sales funnel all but dries up. Often one affects the other – when the roster is complete, there is no time to do the work to get new people in it. When the list is dry, you work extra hard to get as many new prospects as possible.
The right solution is to create ongoing efforts to even out the flow of prospects through that sales funnel. But, who among us is perfect and hasn’t gotten caught in the cycle of feast or famine?
So, what do you do when the well dries up and you need a boost of marketing to get new prospects in the funnel?
Start New Conversations to Fill Your Sales Funnel
Pre-pandemic networking events were a dime a dozen. It just took the time to look online at where our target audiences were hanging out and show up there to shake a few hands and start some new conversations.
Now, we need to get more creative. First, if you aren’t already, you need to get comfortable doing introductory video calls. If you aren’t a natural conversationalist, it might be necessary to jot down some starter questions you can ask to get things rolling.
- Tell me about your work?
- What are your current challenges?
- With whom do you love working?
Warning – DO NOT go into these conversations ready to sell (unless it was set up with this intention). Instead, go in prepared to learn and to serve. Your goal is to become an advocate/ally for this person. Learn as much as possible. If appropriate, offer to support them with advice, encouragement, or an introduction to another person in your network. You’ll need to cut your losses and walk away from some. But, occasionally, you’ll connect with someone that becomes a client or a referral source for you. It’s a numbers game – the more you do, the better you get at it, and the more people you have out there working on your behalf.
Fun idea – do a “30 Virtual Coffees in 30 Days.” I once saw a professional on Linkedin invite her connections to tag people she should connect with in this way. At last count, there were more than 100 comments and tags.
Ask for Referrals and Testimonials to Fill Your Sales Funnel
Whether it is dry or not, you should be doing this. Here’s a standard framework to consider:
1. At the end of a client engagement, ask for a testimonial.
2. At 2-6 months post engagement, create a case study (or at the point when there are results to share).
3. Every six months following, ask for referrals and introductions.
A testimonial is typically a quote that touts how great you were. Don’t be afraid to write a draft of what you want the client to say. For example, you can send an email that says:
Hey Jessie, I am so happy with the way our work together went, and I believe you feel the same way. Would you mind sharing a quote reflecting on our work together? I want to use it on my website and social media. I’m looking for something along the lines of, “Working with you was a great experience. We got more than what we asked for on-time and on budget. We will be using your services again.”
Case Studies share the project details and results. Create a format that works for you and fill in the project name, description, desired outcomes, and any specific challenges or opportunities you faced. Include the testimonial quote, and add in results. Measurable results are best, but in cases where that isn’t possible, include a story that illustrates the good results they experienced.
Referrals are much more likely to turn into an actual conversation if they come in the form of an introduction. Ask your referral source to make an email or video call introduction.
Don’t forget to send a thank-you note to the source. Even better, build in a referral incentive.
Create Content – to use now and later
The best way to attract new prospects is to create valuable content relevant to their here-and-now needs. Don’t waste your slow time. Create content to put out now and work ahead so that when you get busy again, you can pull from your reserves and keep your content fresh.
Content you can create:
- Blog posts
- Articles to pitch to relevant publications
- Email – nurture sequences, sales sequences, monthly content
- Social posts
- Lead-generators – eBooks, tips and tricks, checklists
Not sure what to write? Go back to your core company messaging. What are the top three keywords you want to be known for? Brainstorm 10 things within each of those keywords that you can expand upon.
Example: An executive coaching service wants to be known for the proprietary assessment they have created. Topics they might expand upon include:
- Triggers that tell you it’s time to do new assessments.
- The features of a good assessment.
- Why assessments are essential.
- A list of assessments and what they are best for.
- The top 5 blind spots most executives have in their leadership.
- The downfalls of your personality/communication style and why it matters.
- What to do when your assessment doesn’t say what you thought it would.
- Symptoms of a struggling leader.
- The role assessments play in executive coaching.
Guaranteed – when you do this exercise, you’ll have plenty of options for content creation.
Package & Re-Package
It’s easier to get an old client back than get a new one. Take a look at what those past clients need now. Can you serve them with a current product/service? Can you repackage your offerings to be more attractive? Do you need to add to an existing offering or create something new?
Putting a fresh face on what you offer can give you the excuse you need to get back in front of past clients. It can also give you a reason to self-promote online. Don’t be shy! When you believe in what you are selling, it would be wrong not to share it with those who could benefit from it.