Getting New Customers - Find Out How I Did It

This blog post on getting new customers is a follow up to my other blog post on the results from my efforts to get new customers for my business in my first year of being in business. If you have not read that post I would recommend you start by reading that article. It is titled Get New Customers - Real Results. That article gives the details of my overall results. In this article I will explain by tactic how I obtained those results.

 

Below are the totals of my results from trying to obtain customers who are willing to pay for my services. The service I offer is that I get more customers for business to business small businesses. As part of this service I help them with their sales and marketing plan,  developing the plan and then executing it. To understand better the service I provide go to my new customer generation page, which explains the process and everything I do in detail.

 

The Total Numbers

Total Hours Prospecting = 354.4

Note: I define a prospect as someone I met with 1x1 to discuss my services.

Prospects That Did Not Fit My Strategy = 9

Prospects That Declined My Services = 6

Prospects That I Am Close To Signing = 2

Prospects That Turned Into Customers = 7

Total Prospects = 24

Active Paying Customers = 4

Customers Terminated = 3

Customers Lost = 0

Total Customers = 7

 

 

Results By Method

1. Visiting businesses door to door

Hours = 18.8

Cost = $23.50 (Estimate For Fuel)

Prospects = 8             Hours Per Prospect = 2.35 hours

Customers = 3            Hours Per Customer = 6.23 hours

Closing Rate = 37.5%

Acquisition Cost Per Customer = $7.83

Lessons Learned:

Visiting business door to door is a vary viable way to generate customers, assuming the product or service you are selling is a high ticket price item given this approach is very time consuming. The key when going door to door is to not try and sell your product or service, I learned your goal instead should be to just set up a future appointment. If you aim to only secure a meeting your success will increase because most people are more willing to meet than buy upon a first introduction. If you can show you may be able to provide them with value I found it was usually pretty easy to get a meeting.

 

2. Emailing business owners I found online

Hours = 4.5

Cost = $23.50 (Estimate For Fuel)

Prospects = 0            Hours Per Prospect = infinite

Customers = 0            Hours Per Customer = infinite

Closing Rate = n/a

Acquisition Cost Per Customer = n/a

Lessons Learned:

From all of my efforts with this tactic I did not get a single email response. Email marketing to strangers can be effective, but I think this is only when you are selling a service or product that does not require high trust levels. If you want to be successful selling services or products that require high trust levels it appears you need a more personal interaction. Ideally some sort of face to face interaction, that will build better rapport.


3. Attending networking events

Hours = 36.8

Cost = $355.85 (Event Charges Plus An Estimate For Gas)

Prospects = 11            Hours Per Prospect = 3.3

Customers = 3             Hours Per Customer = 12.3

Closing Rate = 27.3%

Acquisition Cost Per Customer = $118.62

Lessons Learned:

Networking appears to be the fastest way to generate new customers for my business. It is a little more costly but the acquisition cost per customer is still very low. In addition I learned their are many additional benefits to networking other than getting new customers. To find out what these are read my blog post titled Business Networking Advice. Next year I will definitely continue to attend networking events.

 

4. Contacting small business owners who had posted job postings for a marketing position

Hours = 3.0

Cost = $0.00

Prospects = 1             Hours Per Prospect = 3.0

Customers = 0            Hours Per Customer = infinite

Closing Rate = n/a

Acquisition Cost Per Customer = n/a

Lessons Learned:

This may be a viable method to generate customers if you provide a service that can replace or compliment a paid position. I would suggest though that there are more efficient ways to generate new customers then this approach. Modifying this approach to visit the business with the job posting instead of calling or emailing them may prove to be more effective.

 

5. Blogging

Hours = 148.4

Cost = $0.00

Prospects = 1             Hours Per Prospect = 148.4

Customers = 0            Hours Per Customer = infinite

Closing Rate = n/a (still in discussions with prospect)

Acquisition Cost Per Customer = n/a

Lessons Learned:

There are many benefits to blogging. Not only does it increase traffic to your website but you can also use it to document what you are learning. I have found blogging to be a great help in my efforts to constantly learn and improve. I find by writing blog articles what I learn becomes more ingrained in my mind and is easier to remember. I am still undecided if blogging is a very efficient way to generate leads for my business given the high time requirement and the nature of what I am selling. I have been told it takes 2-3 years before a blog will become effective at generating leads so I guess I will need to wait another year before I make any kind of conclusion.

 

6. Blogging on other websites

Hours = 4.0

Cost = $0.00

Prospects = 0             Hours Per Prospect = infinite

Customers = 0            Hours Per Customer = infinite

Closing Rate = n/a

Acquisition Cost Per Customer = n/a

Lessons Learned:

As with blogging I am still undecided on the effectiveness of this method for generating new customers. I am convinced though that it can be effective at increasing traffic to your website. Given I only spent 4 hours on this approach I think it is unfair to come to any kind of conclusion just yet on this method. The most important thing I learned though is don't be afraid to ask. I was surprised by some of the websites I got to blog for simply by asking if I could.

 

7. Video Blogging

Hours = 8.8

Cost = $0.00

Prospects = 0             Hours Per Prospect = infinite

Customers = 0            Hours Per Customer = infinite

Closing Rate = n/a

Acquisition Cost Per Customer = n/a

Lessons Learned:

It is hard to separate the results from this approach from regular blogging. I would say they have the same conclusion though, it is too early to tell. One thing I did conclude is that video blogging can increase traffic more then regular blogging. This is because it is easy to post a video on other sites on the web, which can drive further traffic to your blog and website. To see an example of one of my video blogs go to my article titled Dale Carnegie - Sales Tactics That Work - Principle #1. There are some blog articles that work better or are more efficient to create as written posts so I will continue to do a mix of written and video blogs in the future.

 

8. Cold Calling

Hours = 4.3

Cost = $0.00

Prospects = 0             Hours Per Prospect = infinite

Customers = 0            Hours Per Customer = infinite

Closing Rate = n/a

Acquisition Cost Per Customer = n/a

Lessons Learned:

Again, for selling a service that requires high trust like the service my business provides you need a more personal method to be successful at getting new customers. I have used telephone marketing and had it work for some of my clients but each of them sells a service that does not require a high level of trust to make a purchase. This is because no confidential information is shared and using the service is low risk. I think telephone marketing can be successful for some businesses, pending they have good telephone marketers that will not be viewed by prospects as annoying or a potential scam.

 

9. Pro Bono Work

Hours = 8.0

Cost = $0.00

Prospects = 0             Hours Per Prospect = infinite

Customers = 0            Hours Per Customer = infinite

Closing Rate = n/a

Acquisition Cost Per Customer = n/a

Lessons Learned:

I think this method could be a viable method for some business that have services that can be completed quickly. I have determined for my business this will not work given a project for a customer can take anywhere from 50 hours to 100 hours before any results are seen.

 

10. Sprouter

Hours = 1.5

Cost = $0.00

Prospects = 0             Hours Per Prospect = infinite

Customers = 0            Hours Per Customer = infinite

Closing Rate = n/a

Acquisition Cost Per Customer = n/a

Lessons Learned:

For those of you who don't know what Sprouter is, it is a social media site for entrepreneurs. Given it took basically no time to set up I think it is worth doing as once your profile is created it is there forever. I did try posting some questions, answering some questions and sending messages to people but it did not really convert into any thing substantial. I also found it hard to search for people by geographic locations so it was not great for my business given I am so focused on one geographic location.

 

11. Twitter

Hours = 4.5

Cost = $0.00

Prospects = 0             Hours Per Prospect = infinite

Customers = 0            Hours Per Customer = infinite

Closing Rate = n/a

Acquisition Cost Per Customer = n/a

Lessons Learned:

I think twitter has potential I just have not figured out how to use it. I am going to continue to experiment and see how things progress. My hypothesis is that if I follow and send helpful or friendly tweets, retweets or direct messages to people I am interested in meeting with they may eventually ask me to meet. It will be interesting to see how much time it will take to generate a prospect, but I won't be able to beat the acquisition costs if I can start landing customers this way as the cost will be zero.

 

12. Facebook

Hours = 4.5

Cost = $23.50 (Estimate For Fuel)

Prospects = 0             Hours Per Prospect = infinite

Customers = 0            Hours Per Customer = infinite

Closing Rate = n/a

Acquisition Cost Per Customer = n/a

Lessons Learned:

Very similar to Twitter in that I feel it has potential to be effective but I need to continue to learn about it and improve. I am starting to view Facebook more and more similar to a web page or a portal to my company's website. I have found their are a lot of ways to customize your company's Facebook page. I have found that the customization I have done has definitely helped increase activity on my company's Facebook page. I have also learned that it is critical to get likes by asking for them on the landing page of your Facebook page and also only your website.

 

13. Linkedin

Hours = 2.0

Cost = $0.00

Prospects = 0             Hours Per Prospect = infinite

Customers = 0            Hours Per Customer = infinite

Closing Rate = n/a

Acquisition Cost Per Customer = n/a

Lessons Learned:

I have not had any prospects or customers generated from Linkedin but I advise all small business to create an account and company page because it is so fast to set up. In doing so you will also create credibility for your company, which will help generate leads across all other tactics. Similar to Sprouter I have tried answering questions and engaging people that way but not had much luck. I may continue to test this in the coming year. My biggest learning here is that it is very beneficial to add anyone you meet on linked in as more connections improves your abilities to search within Linkedin. I have also found it is helpful to connect on Linkedin because it builds rapport. I have noticed after linking with contacts I have just met that my rapport with them seems to be much higher the next time I see them.

 

14. Writing Articles On Article Sites

Hours = 1.0

Cost = $0.00

Prospects = 0             Hours Per Prospect = infinite

Customers = 0            Hours Per Customer = infinite

Closing Rate = n/a

Acquisition Cost Per Customer = n/a

Lessons Learned:

After writing a few articles on sites like eZine Articles and eZine Mark I had a change of opinion on this approach. I decided that I did not want to publish my own content on article directories as I wanted to keep control of my content. My thought was why should I build website traffic for another site by giving them good content and hoping some of the traffic would click on a link to my website. My personal opinion was also that article sites have a negative connotation. I am skeptical when I read an article from those websites. I thought at some point they may also be penalized from google becauase they were starting to dominate search results but a lot of the content was low quality and kind of spammy. Well a few months ago many of them lost around 30% of the traffic google was sending to them. This was stated by google that they saw the content as "low quality". I think going forward these types of websites will see further degradation. My strategy going forward is going to be to not write on these websites.

 

15. Squidoo

Hours = 3.0

Cost = $0.00

Prospects = 0             Hours Per Prospect = infinite

Customers = 0            Hours Per Customer = infinite

Closing Rate = n/a

Acquisition Cost Per Customer = n/a

Lessons Learned:

As with writing on article sites I am walking away from this strategy. The concept behind Squidoo is a great one but I feel the site does not execute it well for businesses to be able to benefit from it. The design and layout is more suitable to personal interests and not business. As with article marketing I get a negative or unprofessional connotation from the website when businesses use it. With the few Squidoo lens I have created I have also received zero traffic to my website. For these two reasons my strategy going forward is going to be to not create pages on Squidoo.

 

16. Website

Hours = 80.00

Cost = $101.23

Prospects = 1             Hours Per Prospect = 80.0

Customers = 0            Hours Per Customer = infinite

Closing Rate = n/a

Acquisition Cost Per Customer = n/a

Lessons Learned:

Although my website has not created any customers yet directly I am optimistic this tactic will be more successful next year and have that success compound year after year. Given most of the work was in getting it up and running the amount of hours it will take to maintain next year should be significantly less. The most important lesson I learned about my website came from my friend Andrew la Fleur of TrueCondos.com. When he first looked at my website he did not know what I did. From this I realized when someone visits your site it needs to communicate very clearly what you do and what your value proposition is. I realized I needed to redesign my website. You need to use everything to communicate your message of what you do and why people should want to buy from you...your images, your design, your headings, your navigation titles and of course your text. The key here is to keep the message simple and communicate that one message multiple times on your home page and across your site. My article titled Home Page Website Design talks about this in more detail. What you do and what your value proposition is should be communicated well on all pages of your website but the home page is definitely the most important. My website is still does not do as good as a job of this as I would like but it is much better than before. I will continue to work to improve this in the coming year. If you think you need a new website after reading this, consider checking out 99Designs. I wish I would have known about this site before I built mine.

 

17. Referrals

Hours = 2.3

Cost = $8.00 (Estimate For Fuel)

Prospects = 1             Hours Per Prospect = 2.3

Customers = 1            Hours Per Customer = 2.3

Closing Rate = 100%

Acquisition Cost Per Customer = $8.00

Lessons Learned:

I have yet to find a great way to generate referrals other then meeting with people who I know would have a large contact list of people that would be suitable prospects for my business and talking to them about my business when it comes up in conversation. I am going to continue to brainstorm and test new methods in the coming year to tap into the power of referrals as I know they are the number one source of new customers for most small businesses. I am sure their is a system or tactic I can use to drive a significant increase in the number of referrals I get, I just need to figure it out. I have learned it is important to realize a referral can come from anyone, you never know who a referral can come from so don't be afraid to talk about your business to anyone who asks or when it just comes up in conversation. They might not be interested in what you are selling but they may know someone who is.

 

 

The Best Methods

Hours Per Prospect = Referrals at 2.3 hours per prospect

Hours Per Customer = Referrals at 2.3 hours per customer

Closing Rate = Referrals at 100%

Acquisition Cost Per Customer = Door To Door at $7.83 per customer

 

 

Key Insights

What I learned from this year's experience generating customers for my business is that....

1. Big budgets are not required to generate customers for a business that provides business to business services. I was able to generate customers without spending almost anything.

2. All prospects are not of equal value. Some lead generation tactics do a poor job of filter prospects that are worth talking to. In addition prospects from different tactics are of different value because each tactic has it own closing rate which can be significantly better than or worse than another tactic.

3. Referrals are the ultimate lead generation source. They are low cost and since they are coming to you on the advice of someone they trust, referrals have the highest closing rate. The problem is that it is difficult to build a system that consistently and regularly delivers referrals. Or at least I have not found one yet.

 

 

Other Related Article You Might Be Interested In

1. Small Business Marketing

2. Dale Carnegie How To Win Friends

3. The Best Way To Close A Sale

4. Sales Tip Of The Week

 

My name is Chris R. Keller. I work at Profitworks Small Business Services helping various B2B small businesses in Waterloo and Kitchener Ontario generate new customers. If you are interested in generating new customers for your B2B small businesses enter your email in the box provided below and click the "Send Me Free Updates" button.

 

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