When I was in college, I worked for a car dealership in Dallas.
One of the brands we sold was Saab. I was talking with my manager one day and for whatever reason, we started discussing the demographic profile for who bought a Saab.
It was a casual conversation but I tend to be an assertive question asker and I continued asking questions and learned that we knew the most likely trade-in for a Saab was a 3 to 5-year-old Honda Accord.
When I heard that I thought about that single piece of data.
Most dealerships work this way; they run advertising campaigns and local marketing and wait for people to call, email, or come through the front door. Pretty typical.
After learning about the most common trade-in, I kept wondering why we don’t canvas the local zipcodes for everyone who owns that exact car, a 3-5-year-old Honda Accord, and build a list and then go to them.
Why not be proactive and go and find them and make an introduction or leave a brochure and a card.
Even if it meant reaching out via phone or an in-person visit to say, “hey name, I wanted to make a short introduction, if you’ve considered Saab, I’d love for you to try one for a 24-hour test drive. Here’s my card, let me know if you'd like to have your car appraised…thanks” – or something similar.
We NEVER did any proactive outreach measures that I know about. Everything was dependant on inbound.
I’ve always remembered that lesson years later and have applied it to the company I have now. We're religious about knowing our audience or most compatible customers. We do our homework and then go to them.
While I don’t dispute the validity of an inbound strategy, I think companies tend to rely too heavily on it and lose their ability to look at data and take proactive measures to go get their next customer.
Right now, with everything going on in the world – it seems to me that a proactive outbound approach is more valuable than ever.
Waiting on a customer to reach out to me has always made me feel a little anxious. I don't like the idea of being dependent on someone taking action in order for us to earn new business.
I'd rather ensure our success by defining who we are going after and then building a habit of going and getting it.
Every single major customer we've gotten has come from this approach and it's helped us build a client roster of some of the largest and best companies in the world.
Know who your most likely customers are and find a way to go get them.
About Robert Cornish: Robert Cornish founded Richter in early 2008 to build an agency focused on communication strategies that support sales growth for business to business technology-related companies. Bootstrapped with zero capital in the middle of the financial meltdown, Richter went on to make the Inc 5000 list comprised of the fastest-growing companies in America five times. Richter made the Silicon Valley Fast 50 four times and the Entrepreneur360 award two times. Robert has been featured in Bloomberg Businessweek, Selling Power Magazine, Inc Magazine and IDEA magazine. He's been a guest speaker for ACG Los Angeles, IASA Summit, West Point and been interviewed for 33Voices, EnTRUEpreneurship Podcast and IDEA Magazine by Northwood University. In 2012 Wiley & Sons published his book, What Works, about the lessons he's learned while growing his agency from start-up navigating his way to a multi-million dollar agency. Robert currently owns four companies.
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