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A few suggestions for finding sales prospects

Ask SCORE

Ask SCORE

August 10, 2009|By BOB POOR

Q: We are about ready to launch our small business but do not have many sales prospects. Can SCORE give us a few "hints" of where to look?

A: Not knowing what business you are in, here are a few general suggestions:

o Grow your niche. Think of all the different business segments that might have a need for your products or services. For instance, your company might display signs at stadiums, however, there is also a need for that service on top of buildings as well as on highways. Broaden your niche to increase your list of prospects.

o Market directly. Start e-mail marketing with a target list that can grow with referrals and your new prospects. E-newsletters through such companies as Constant Contact are a great low-cost way to reach and stay in touch with prospects, as well as clients.

o Connections, Connections, Connections. Always pursue any opportunity to connect in person -- you never know who their circle of influence might include. Go to meetup.com groups in your area, to events that have to do with your business and to business card exchanges, and be sure to start a list of people you meet. Follow up with them and ask permission to add them to your database.

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o Use social media to grow contact lists. There are free audiences available online. Try opening a Facebook or LinkedIn account. Once opened, you will have access to a multitude of groups in many categories. You can view how many have joined the group, join it yourself, message to it and watch as the sale inquiries start coming to you.

A quick message of "who is interested in ­­these services/products" could elicit your first group of clients.

n Make sure you follow up. Relationships, like children, need to be fed. Make certain that if you have contacted someone once and they are still interested, follow up with them either with a newsletter, a follow up call or a brochure/flyer -- anything to show them how your business is growing and that you are a competent and reliable source of what you have to offer.

Now is the time to ramp up your prospect list for the fall and winter seasons. If you want further assistance building your sales prospects, call SCORE at 301-739-2015, ext. 103. The counseling is free and confidential.

Robert A. "Bob" Poor is a local small business owner/operator. He is chairman of the local SCORE chapter, a small-business counselor and a regular contributor to the Ask SCORE column.

Questions may be e-mailed to him at r.poor@myactv.net or by mail in care of The Herald-Mail, P.O. Box 439, Hagerstown, MD 21741, ATTN: Ask SCORE column.

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