September 18, 2014
I often get invited to consult with start-ups when they are planning their initial outbound sales strategy. My first question is always, “Who can you recruit to sell this for you?”
Whether you are a brand new CSP or a well-established firm that is beginning to offer cloud services, you can use cold calling to create a powerful team of resellers. First, identify the non-competitive companies that are selling in to the same markets you do.
For professional services firms, you might start out with a list that looks like this:
Book keeping/accounting services.
Printing and design companies.
There are no bad ideas when brainstorming.
Start with the companies that might also potentially fit into your client parameters. Then, devote a portion of your week to calling those companies, and say something like this:
“It’s Joe calling from ABC IT in Atlanta. We work with companies that have between 20-100 employees, and we help them (whatever you help them do!). I’d like to chat about potentially referring business to each other, as it appears you also target that group. Is now a good time to have that discussion?”
This strategy works best from sales rep to sales rep or business owner to business owner. If they are amenable to the discussion, qualify a little further. Do you actually target the same kinds of businesses? Are they currently engaged with businesses that you might like to offer your services to? Are you currently engaged with some companies they would like to work with? Does the company actively go looking for new business, or are they a more passive “we work from referrals only” firm?
If they don’t do any prospecting for themselves, they won’t be able to prospect for you. Do some research. Are they members of the Better Business Bureau or the local Chamber of Commerce? Are there good reviews for their services online? You will want to hitch your wagon to a partner that you will be proud to refer business to — remember, this will be a two-way-street.
Find multiple firms that you can trade referrals with. Educate them on what you are looking for in a customer, and what kind of pain you solve for your clients. What are some key indicators that a company would benefit from your services? How do you identify a potential good fit? For many companies — yours and your partners — there are always sales triggers that indicate they could be ready for change, for example:
You discover a company is moving offices. This is a great time to pitch cloud services, but also a great time to recommend several other companies in your network. One person cold calling may not find dozens of companies planning for a move, but a dozen people cold calling might. Is there a moving company in your referral network?
You discover a company is looking to make a new hire. New management team members mean change. This is a great lead for the recruiter in your network. When that recruiter signs a company looking to make a hire that will participate in the purchase of your solution, they can make a recommendation. They’re already a trusted advisor to the company that hired them and the person that they placed there.
Not every company is going to be cloud services purchase-ready when you call them. Ask what business problem they are trying to solve right now, if not the one you can help them with. Mention you have a strong referral network and you are happy to make introductions. Then feed your network, and your network will reciprocate. A strong referral network gives you an unlimited reach in your market, and the reputation for being a company that is invested in the success of their clients, partners and the business community as a whole.
How do you go about finding referral businesses to work with? What type of agreements to you have with these companies?
Carrie Simpson is founder and CEO of Managed Sales Pros.
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