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Leverage: Your best (sales) friend

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“I need to learn some new prospecting strategies,” Erin, an advisor from the Midwest, told me. “I’ve done okay, but what I’m doing doesn’t seem to be getting me anywhere lately.” I asked her to tell me about her practice.

“How many clients do you have now?”

“About 300. A few are what I would consider clients, but most are really just one-time ‘customers.’”

“Then you don’t really need to learn any new prospecting strategies at all,” I said. “What you need to do is turn some of those ‘customers’ into ‘clients’ and some of those clients into fiercely loyal advocates.”

Most sales-training programs are based on the theory that sales is a “numbers game” and nothing more. While the quantity of your contacts is important, their quality is equally—if not more—important.

If your job is really to find a lead, make a sale and then go looking for another lead to make another sale, you will easily become exhausted. You’re starting at the beginning each time. Leveraging existing relationships is a more efficient and powerful way to grow any business. It involves these two aspects:

1.     Finding more ways to serve existing clients, and

2.     Getting those clients to refer us to new clients.

“If I went through your notes on all your customers and clients, could I think of things you have not yet offered them?” I asked. She said I probably could. “Would that be true even of the ones you’ve identified as real clients?”

“Actually, they were the ones I was thinking of,” she replied.

“What stands in the way of your approaching them to talk about some of those things?”

“Nothing, I guess.” So Erin and I sat down and discussed each of her top 20 clients. Several of them hadn’t heard from her in months and, in a couple of cases, in more than a year. She resolved to contact them to look for new ways she could serve them as mine them for referrals.

“Figure out how many appointments you want to keep each week,” I advised her. “And when you have an empty slot, fill it with service to your existing clients and requests for referrals.” Thanks to her use of leveraging, Erin is well on her way to a full schedule.

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Sandy Schussel is a speaker, business trainer and coach who helps sales teams develop systems to win clients. He is the author of The High Diving Board and Become a Client Magnet. For more information, go to