For most small to medium- sized businesses (SMBs), the continuous search for new customers is essential to meet or exceed growth targets. As a reseller, the extent of available prospecting options for your business is often influenced by the size of the organization, and whether there are dedicated resources for new customer acquisition. Larger organizations typically have the human capital and the budget to invest in multiple avenues for finding new customers. Regardless of company size, one factor is particularly applicable to all organizations.
It’s extremely important for any business owner to understand and properly manage customer acquisition costs. For example, it is less expensive to keep existing customers as a means to maintain current or incremental levels of revenue, but acquiring new customers is imperative if you want to achieve significant growth. When it comes to finding prospects (and customers) that are ready and willing to purchase, there are many options available, with varying impact on your customer acquisition cost.
It’s often a no-brainer to start by focusing on retention. As a source of revenue, returning customers should be the least costly (and easiest) form of maintaining and possibly growing revenue. In SaaS models, retention is key, of course. But for any type of business, such as resellers who focus on managed services, the sales process for adding on additional products and services is often met with less resistance. The customer has already purchased at least once, and research proves their experience with a business will determine if they return.
Great products and excellent customer service, during and after the sale, are paramount to the customer experience. But you still need new customer growth. Let’s take a look at some new customer acquisition strategies:
The Power of Reputation: Word of Mouth & Referrals
If you are doing a good job with retention efforts, then referrals from existing customers could be the least expensive option for new customer recruitment. Referrals require little effort if you have a strong history of quality product/service offerings, a solid reputation for solution implementation, and excellent customer service. Attracting customers, targeting business opportunities, and finding work or new business is one of the top challenges among U.S. small business owners, and for many, word of mouth referrals are often one of the best sources of revenue after returning customers.
There are standalone solutions that help you develop, promote, and manage a more complex referral system- but small businesses looking for a simple route can promote referral opportunities on their website, in email campaigns, or by just picking the phone and making the ask. It’s worth noting that referral programs are usually more successful if your existing customer is rewarded with some incentive, such as a future discount or cash.
Staying Visible: Social Media
A more recent prospecting tool available to savvy resellers is the use of social media, sometimes referred to as social selling. If done correctly, it can have a huge effect on spreading the word about your business and in actual lead generation. With the rapid rise of business-specific social media activities and the increasing audience acceptance of the approach, use of social media is only expected to continue rising. Plus, there are pay-to-play options available, such as sponsoring a post to make it display in target audience feeds, placing low-cost ads, and more. Every platform is unique!
In addition to (and sometimes within) the traditional social media sites, there are online communities and topic-specific groups (such as LinkedIn Groups) that provide incredible access to your target audiences. Participating in these social communities can be another valuable asset for reaching buyers. These also sometimes have pay-to-play options, but even if you choose not to put lead gen dollars to these paid options, it is still a good (no cost) avenue for finding and conversing with potential prospects and demonstrating your knowledge as an expert in your field.
Getting Active in the Local Chamber of Commerce
Another time-tested avenue for promoting your business is participating in or sponsoring local events. The first step is to join and become active in your local Chamber of Commerce. Many prospects will use the Chamber to network with other members for peer referrals in an effort to validate a business’ integrity. Many local chambers hold networking events, host committees you can volunteer on and have other events that provide great opportunities to meet and greet your future prospects. Chamber-related events will require a bit more time and effort, but the more involved a business is, the more fruitful the outcome can be with finding prospects.
Taking Advantage of List Purchase Services
If you have trouble building your own list of prospects, a proven method for finding potential prospects is to buy targeted lists that match your ideal customer profile. There are many agencies that provide such services, and the lists can usually be filtered and regionalized with great effect. There are several methods of marketing activities that can be implemented with these lists from email campaigns, cold calling, and traditional card or brochure mailers. Obviously, these prospects are very cold and may or may not be currently seeking the solution you offer. While the effectiveness of the activities vary, pre-purchased lists (price typically based on the number of contacts you buy) can provide a significant return on investment. Keep in mind: the quality of the vendor and their lists should be researched and validated.
Networking at Trade Shows and Conferences
Whether regional or national, trade shows can still be an effective method for evangelizing your products and services to a large audience. Participation can range from only having a booth for displaying products and services to participating in the additional sponsored events or speaking opportunities offered. Participating in trade shows can end up being one of the most expensive and time consuming activities, but it does allow you face-to-face interaction with potential prospects. Ensuring you have seasoned employees available for the event, especially with some shows being multi-day events, is imperative but may be a trade-off that isn’t worth the effort depending on your staffing level.
Prospecting new customers can be done in several different ways, each of which involves a varied amount of time and money. If you have the available budget, you may also choose to hire third-party marketing firms to assist with prospecting activities, from campaign development to managing online pay-per-click programs (such as Google AdWords). The comfort level lies solely on business stakeholders and their willingness to be involved in prospecting.
Curious about how Sangoma supports its partner network with marketing, leads, and deal registration? Learn more about the Sangoma Partner Program!