Should Employees Have To Prospect?

By: Joe Crisara

The Employee “Prospector”

One of the great things about doing business in today’s world is the massive amounts of opportunities that exist to promote and advertise our business. Unfortunately these marketing opportunities can dilute your message to a point where potential customers may find it hard to find you.

So marketing has come full circle. The most effective way to get new customers is to ask your existing customers for referrals or what we used to call “word-of-mouth.”

How much can we expect from our front-line employees like office staff, installers, service techs and sales people in terms of bringing in referrals or do be a “prospector” for new clients?

Referrals Prove Employee Commitment

As an owner of a contracting company nothing told me an employee loved working for us more than bringing in new clients to us. In fact, when an employee NEVER brings in a new client, it made me wonder what an employee says about us when they are asked the famous, “What do you do for a living?” question.

In today’s contracting business environment there are no options – EVERYONE must work on bringing in new customers and that certainly includes techs and sales people.

Think about it. How many times have we seen potential new clients approach our trucks or ask us about doing work for them while we were having lunch at the local greasy spoon? Customers WANT us to ask them for their business. So what are we afraid of? Trying to be pushy? Looking like (God forbid – cover your eyes) a salesperson?

You Don’t Have To Like It

Prospecting reluctance is as old a prospecting itself. I can imagine that in the old wild western days of the gold rush, many prospectors complained it was too cold, too wet and too hard to work to get out of their tents and head down to the river to pan for their rewards. Like those historic go-getters, you need to remind yourself that you don’t have to like doing this type of work, you just have to do it.

The question looms, how can we prospects for new clients or get word-of-mouth leads without coming off like a pushy salesperson? The answer is alarmingly simple. Don’t ask directly for a new customer when talking to people. Just ask them for their advice on how they would do it if they were in your shoes.

Just have your people do the following:

  1. Show appreciation to each customer by thanking them.
  2. Comment on how much they enjoyed working for them today.
  3. Ask their advice on how you could get more people like them to work for.

EXAMPLE: “Bill, you’re a smart guy. Do you have any advice on how we could get more great customers like you to do business with?”

You will be amazed at how many ideas and customers you will get by asking this question on every single customer interaction. It also works well for networking events and family parties as well.

Make Someone Feel Smart

Asking someone for their advice always makes that person feel smart and increases their precious self-esteem. The simple principle behind this technique is that if somebody makes us we feel good about ourselves we feel obligated in a sense to re-pay that person by providing an act of kindness in return,

In essence, if you put me up on a pedestal and make me feel smart and good, I don’t want to lose that feeling. So the sense of urgency to provide you with an idea or even a friend or family member to get you more business increases.

Getting referrals is easy if you just seek the advice and counsel of the person who is “always right,” your customer.