Prospecting and Lead Generation
There is flow here that leads to marketing and selling, that leads to tastings, that leads to clients. This is work, hard work, it’s not easy, there is no magic wand. You need to have patience persistence and commitment, it will not happen overnight. If you follow the steps and guidelines as we lay them out for you, you’ll find success in this industry. But you need to work hard at it. Lead generation is a long-term process that focuses on cultivating prospective customers. Its goal is to build awareness and generate leads over a period of time.
Reasons to consider implementing a lead generation strategy:
- You are not seeking immediate new business.
- Your operation is not ready to handle a possible influx of new business.
- Your initial focus is to build awareness and to get prospects to demonstrate some interest before you contact them by phone.
Prospecting is a more immediate strategy that focuses on bringing new business now.
Reasons to consider implementing a prospecting strategy:
- You are confident that your catering operation is properly set-up to handle a possible influx of new business.
- You have sufficient staff to handle a wave of new business.
- You are anxious for more revenue.
In bigger organizations, there may be 3 different people or even departments for:
- Lead Generation
In our world, there might be one person responsible for it all. In some situations, it could be an owner trying to squeeze it in amongst the endless list of other things that need to get done. Regardless of which strategy you are focused on, remember that practically everyone you come in contact with is a possible lead, referral, prospect, or client.
Sales cycles are multi-step processes. In the end, it is all a numbers game. Do not get put off by rejection. You need rejections to be successful. Believe it or not, the more “No’s” you get will correlate into more new business that you will gain. Why? Because it means you are working your sales initiative harder. For example:
Goal: 1 New Account.
The Formula: (Bear in mind, this is an example of how the averages can work)
20 Cold Calls = 8 Prospects = 3 Prospects that Qualify for Tastings = 2 Tastings you Schedule = 1 New Account.
20 Cold Calls = 1 New Account
Bottom Line: For every 20 cold calls, you need 12 “rejections” to get closer to your goal.
1) Have the same person (or people) prospecting: A dedicated sales person is ideal. A part-time sales person is fine if you cannot justify a full-time person at this time. It is also better than you trying to squeeze it in when time permits.
2) Designate one hour per day for prospecting: Consider this time non-negotiable and as important as having your morning cup of coffee, or (fill in the blank for whatever action allows you to function).
3) Make as many calls as possible: The more calls you make = more people you speak to = more leads = more prospects = more conversions = more business = more money = more profit.
4) Make calls brief: You goal is not to have the prospect place an order immediately. (It’s great if they want to and every so often, it will happen). In order of priority, your goals are:
- Schedule a tasting (assuming they qualify).
- Set a plan to contact them again to schedule a tasting.
- Send or email a menu / information package so they can order in the future.
5) Have a list ready: Researching information, collecting data, and compiling names of companies to call is not part of this hour. It is a separate task.
6) Do not allow interruptions: The person who is prospecting should be unavailable to take other calls or answer any questions during this hour.
7) Experiment with different contacting times: You may discover that certain days of the week, or time slots during the day, yield better results than others. For example, 12:00-1:00pm is a time when a lot of people are at lunch and not available.
8) Commit to being organized: Use the templates and tools provided. Do not record information on scrap paper with the intention of entering it on the spreadsheet later. If you do not consider yourself an organized person by nature, it is a valuable skill anyone can learn.
9) Set attainable goals: Example:
Week #1: Make 20 calls per day.
Week #2: Follow up on all prior weeks call-backs and make 10 new calls per day.
Week #3: Schedule one future tasting per day.
Week #4: Follow up on call-backs and make 10 new calls per day.
Important: Adjust your goals as necessary. If you set the bar too high and you find that you cannot reach your quotas, reduce them to more attainable levels.
10) DO NOT GIVE UP: This is a gradual process that takes time to yield results. There will be days when it feels like a grind and you would rather do anything else in the world. Consider these defining moments of your long-term success. Your persistence will pay-off. We guarantee it.
- Build an ideal customer profile: What companies do you covet most as customers? What are their demographics? Where are they located? How often do they order catering? What types of food do they most commonly order? What is an average number of people per order?
- Talk to your best customers: Explain you are trying to hone your message. Ask them why they use you. How would they describe your catering services to a friend? How have you helped their business? Perhaps they would be willing to write a brief testimonial. (This is a good opportunity to thank them for their valued business and perhaps surprise them with a complimentary dessert platter).
- Define your goals: What do you want to accomplish? What benchmarks will you use to measure your results: a specific number of cold calls per day or leads per week? Benchmarks can also be tastings per month or revenue for the year. There is no right or wrong answers, but set some specific goals and put them in writing. If you are not sure where to begin, start with whatever feels most manageable, and go from there.
- Don’t spin your wheels: There is a temptation, particularly at the beginning of the process, to get new business from any means possible. Qualify rigorously. If a prospect caters a lunch for 20 people once a month, it probably does not make sense to invest in a full-blown tasting. Instead, the next time a delivery person is in the area, they could drop-off a complimentary dessert platter with a menu.
- Be consistent: If it is feasible to have a staff person dedicated exclusively to this process, you should realize results sooner. Otherwise, unless cultivating new business is designated as a high priority, (and even when it is) it is inevitably the first task to come off the to-do list when anything unexpected alters the workday…which is probably most days.
- Develop and maintain a database: When cold calling, all contact information needs to be documented including: name of company, address, phone number, contact person, and email address. Responses to questions need to be entered, such as: How often do they order catering? How many people do they typically order for? Do they order breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? Hors d’oeuvres? “Next Action” steps need to be tracked. For example, do you need to send a menu? Are you scheduled to call them back? When?
If you are located in any of the following markets, we strongly recommend you purchase The Book of Lists which has the most current information for companies in your area from www.bizjournals.com. Better yet, subscribe to their weekly business journal and The Books of Lists is included. This publication will keep you up-to-date on local business news and provide additional leads and prospects.
- Kansas City
- Minneapolis/St. Paul
- Puget Sound
- San Antonio
- San Francisco
- San Jose
- South Florida
- St. Louis
- Tampa Bay
Crane’s Book of Lists, www.crain.com is the comparable resource in:
- New York
Otherwise, check: www.bookoflistsonline.com
Choose a very specific territory to begin canvassing and dive in. Stay in the same area until you have completely covered it.In other words, look at a map and outline the perimeter around a manageable section. When you are starting out, it doesn’t make sense to have two deliveries on opposite ends of the city. As you peruse The Book of Lists, your priority should be similar locations / addresses. With that said, here is a “Bakers-Dozen” list of industry categories as listed in the Business Journals Book of Lists that should reap particularly strong returns.
(Note: Do not disregard the others. A handful will not be applicable such as: Hotels, Golf Courses, Restaurants, but there are always some jewels in sectors that might surprise you such as: Nonprofits, Banks, etc.)
- Venture Capital
- Investment Advisers
- Consulting Firms
- Web Design Firms
- Law Firms
- Architectural Firms
- Advertising Agencies
- Public Relations Firms
- Life Science Companies
- Medical Device Companies
- Private Companies
- Public Companies
- Colleges / Universities
- Pharmaceutical Reps
- Business Office Parks