Techniques to acquire business are endless, and it’s not hard to find numerous books, websites or consultants willing to reveal secret techniques. However, we all covet one method because it doesn’t require significant effort. It’s when a prospect has sought out your shop and needs you to help solve a problem.
The tricky part is ensuring that your shop can be found when that prospect seeks the services you provide. You know the drill when cold calling or otherwise seeking business—most prospects won’t give you the time of day, much less an exclusive appointment. They are busy and don’t care about your pitch. They think they can quickly find a machine shop anywhere if and when they need one. Many times, they can find plenty of machine shops.
And even if you do get their attention and they agree to take the next step of supplier certification, there’s no guarantee of signing a contract anytime soon. They’ll tell you about the lengthy supplier approval process and how they’ll “be in touch.” However, when a prospect needs your services and calls you, suddenly the supplier approval process moves quickly.
In that situation, signing nondisclosure agreements, completing all the supplier quality surveys and finally receiving those coveted drawings to quote seem to move faster. This is definitely a shop’s dream inquiry.
Are you positioned to be found when someone urgently needs a shop? Hopefully so. If not, positioning your shop to be found is what’s important.
My sales team and I recently reviewed some reports and analyzed our sales figures, such as new business versus old. During the discussion, we realized that almost everyone we had cold-called or otherwise sought out didn’t turn into much business, even though we had spent a serious amount of time and effort. The most solid prospects were those who had found themselves in a jam and needed a good shop.
A way to connect with someone can involve personal referrals; somebody seeking a local shop and recalling driving by your place; a company finding your shop via an online search; or perhaps a person remembering your shop from a trade show. The possibilities are many. But a referral is always your best bet, and it doesn’t always come from someone obvious. Maybe it’s a neighbor of a colleague who’s aware of your shop. Maybe it’s a result of a community event where you met someone and informed that person of your company. Maybe it’s an introduction from a Little League game or dance recital. The point is that you can never tell where a good referral might come from and when it will fall into your lap.
It recently happened at our shop and, thankfully, turned into our largest single order in 3 years. The referral was a gentleman who met my brother at their daughters’ volleyball tournaments. When someone contacts you and needs your product or service, the business is probably yours to lose.
Related Glossary Terms
1. On a saw blade, the number of teeth per inch. 2. In threading, the number of threads per inch.