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It seems that we can all agree that experience matters. If you are looking to succeed in anything in life, it makes sense to speak to someone that has been down the particular path you are about to go down. And don’t speak to just anyone…speak to those people who have had success accomplishing what you are setting out to accomplish. We tend to ask questions to find out who’s experienced in what we are trying to achieve and then contact that individual for advice.  Before we know it, we find ourselves receiving many referrals with a selection of people to speak to. You have your conversations with those individuals, you gather your advice, and off you go to achieve your original goal. You are able to achieve your goal because you prepared yourself. More importantly you were able to achieve your goal because you asked for advice and used it to your liking. Everyone seems to want things but few tend to ask for them.

                When I first started with Everest, I was granted an opportunity to change the way we go about asking for business. Just like every other sales job, creating a pipeline is essential to growing your portfolio. And, just like every sales rep, we all dislike the time it takes to create that pipeline. Many people believe cold calling is the way to do it. I tend to disagree. I believe cold calling was once a great art but today it is a dying art. So, I decided to steer Everest away from cold calling as the initial outreach to stay away from gate keepers. The chances of a sale being made without speaking to the decision maker is not likely. What I wanted to do was utilize social media outlets as well as digital marketing to set up meetings. I understood that this was how a lot of other companies were now marketing to prospects and we had a lot of catching up to do. I also realized, from a tracking stand point, that this is relatively easy. Our CRM has social media capabilities that allow us to track everything. ClickDimensions, an add-on to Microsoft Dynamics, is our tool for digital marketing.  It allows us to find out who clicked on what and what subject lines are more appealing based off of opened emails. We use both of these products to grow our business; technology makes life that much easier. CRM allows us to track everything and gives us the inside scoop on information that we would otherwise wish we had.

                Social media and digital marketing campaigns are fantastic ways to grow a business but they still are not at the top of my list. The number one way to grow any business is through referrals. There is only one way to grow through word of mouth however, and that is to make every existing customer feel like they are your only customer.  Your existing customers have to be so connected that they feel as if they can’t run their business without you. Providing a great solution to a need, with a great price, followed by even better customer service, is only half the battle. Over the past 20 years we have kept our customers smiling. Our life long relationships have been a mainstay for our growth. 75% of our customer portfolio originates from referrals. According to sfblog.com, there are three main ways to grow your business through referrals:

•             Give more value than your customers feel they pay for

•             Let your clients do the selling

•             Say thank you

We have lifelong relationships with our customers and because of that we are still blessed to be going strong. With 75% of our customer portfolio being referrals, we still were not doing the best job we can do…the reason is because we were not asking for referrals. We wait for our customers to share their relationships with us, assuming they will. My goal is to put an active plan in place to ask for help from our loyal list. My thoughts are, if you do not ask you will not receive.

                Growing through referrals is something that I want to take advantage of in 2015 but there is still one missing piece to the puzzle. Over the past 20 years, we have gathered many testimonials. These testimonials are very detailed, explaining the need our customers presented to us, our solution, and the final outcome. However, today we live in an extremely fast paced world. The interest level of reading a four paragraph testimonial is gone. People enjoy and value reviews, but they want the outcome in two seconds rather than two minutes. My recommendation is to get our faithful customers to describe their experience by using FOUR WORDS. As a human species, we tend to remember things in groups of three and four. This is why phone numbers are grouped in three’s and four’s. If I could challenge our customers to truly identify our relationship in four specific words it would be a huge success for Everest. I understand that there are still certain customers that would love to read the one-two page testimonial, but most would like a quick snapshot. So far, we have had some success with our customers using FOUR WORDS to describe us. They find it to be a fun exercise.

                At this time, our strong relationships have been built and I have the idea of short reviews describing Everest so it is time to put it all together. In Q1 of 2015, my plan is to ask for what I need. I plan on setting up meetings with our current customers with the hope of them describing their relationship with us in FOUR WORDS. During that same meeting I am going to ask if they know anyone that could benefit from our services and if they do, I am going to ask for a warm introduction. Based on previous referral introductions, getting a face-to-face meeting is more effective with a referral than with a cold call.

                In closing, I am fortunate to work for a company that really prides itself on customer service. Since the beginning, Everest has done it the right way…we have taken care of the customers that have taken care of us. We are now hoping that our loyal customers can do us one better and provide warm introductions to those who may need us. Everyone is competing in the same marketplace; it’s those who take advantage of opportunities that grow and become the market leader. 

 

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