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Sales prospecting and lead generation get a bad rap, especially in IT companies with small sales teams and where the principal still has a role in sales. I can’t tell you how many people I talk with who tell me they don’t want to cold call. They don’t want to prospect. New business development sounds hard. They don’t want to do lead generation, but they want to grow their business.

Why Don’t You Want to Grow Your Business?

The reasons we hear about why SMB business owners aren’t ready to grow their businesses using traditional sales and marketing activities are many.

Sometimes it’s because they don’t have the bandwidth on their sales team to follow up on leads. Other times they don’t feel their service delivery or solutions are ready for a full-on lead generation or sales push. Their businesses just aren’t ready for the growth they envision – yet.

Occasionally there are personal things happening in their lives that will get in the way of following up on leads. Weddings, babies, travel, mission-work are all priorities. These business owners have enviable work-life balance and as a result, they don’t want to generate too many leads because they wouldn’t be able to get to them all.

Then there are the owners who want to add a few clients to the business – but not too many. They truly want a lifestyle business. They aren’t looking to become the next $20M MSP with 5 locations serving 5 states. Five or six new clients is all they’d like to add to the business and they’d be happy.

Most times, as we talk more, it’s because they just aren’t comfortable with prospecting, lead generation, hiring and sales overall. But that’s a training and coaching issue for a different article!

Whatever the reason, these owners are all looking for a different way to expand their businesses on their terms, until they are ready to engage in prospecting and lead generation and really take off.

3 Ways to Grow Your Business

All these reasons for pacing growth are valid. After all, it’s your business. As a business owner, you get to decide how, if, and when you’re ready to grow.

If you can relate to any of these reasons why you don’t want to run lead generation campaigns, hire more (or your first) salesperson, or prospect, you need another way to grow your business. In this situation, there are three approaches to new business development for SMB growth.  

  1. Implement a formal referral gathering process. Referral gathering is typically hit or miss. If the sales funnel is dry, you remember to ask. Otherwise, you don’t think about asking for referrals. Now is the time to make it more consistent.

    Make referral gathering part of your account management process with specific times you consciously ask for referrals. You may choose to put a referral rewards program in place for both clients and employees who pass referrals. The key is to make it part of your process and do it.

    Referrals allow you to grow at a moderate pace without any cold calling. If you don’t need a lot of leads, or a lot of new clients, this can be an excellent growth strategy.

    Watch for our next Coffee with Kendra webinar coming in May for strategies on how to do effective referral gathering.

  2. Grow revenue in your existing client base. Unless you only sell one solution with no variation, there is probably additional revenue hiding in your existing client base. Have you noticed how every time you meet with a client in person or conduct a review meeting, you hear or see new opportunities?

    Sometimes it’s just a matter of stepping back and observing what’s happening in your client’s company for you to see that opportunity.  The next time you’re on site, take a breath and really look at what your client needs from you. Listen to the staff. Ask some additional questions to learn how they’re using your solution.

    To formalize your look and listen time, set up regular review meetings. It could be every three, four or six months. The frequency is dependent upon your availability and the value to the client.

  3. Acquire another company. Sales may not be your strength. Acquisition is another growth strategy that will get your more customers, and possibly additional staff.

    Your business size dictates the size company you can afford. We have clients that acquire single-person firms, and those that acquire multi-location firms. Look for a company that compliments your own in solutions, target market, and staffing.

    New customers always come with an acquisition. Some of the customers may not be in your target market, and you may choose to cut them loose. But if you choose wisely, a significant portion of customers will fit your target market. Instant growth. Make them happy and you can use the referral gathering and revenue growth within the client base strategies to grow your business.

Your Next Step to Grow Your Business

If you’re looking to grow your business, but you don’t feel ready to implement a lead generation campaign or sales prospecting strategies, choose one of these three approaches to growth. All three can work together. The key to successful growth is to pick one and implement it.

Once you do decide to move forward with lead generation campaigns and sales prospecting, don’t stop using these three growth strategies. They work in tandem to propel your business forward.

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