The fourth scenario: Referrals on steroids

September 11, 2012

By Bob Johnson, NAID CEO

If your secure destruction company is relying strictly on cold calling prospects for sales, you’re going to have a rough time growing your business. Obviously, it is much better to call prospects with which you have some connection, namely a referral or someone you met while networking. Even better yet, is a scenario in which prospects are calling you for solutions based on your reputation, expertise and community involvement. And finally, the rarest and most rewarding method is when a prospect calls and says something like “one of our biggest customers is requiring that we use your service.”

While some companies still cold call prospects, I am not going to waste a minute talking about why cold calls do not work. If you haven’t learned why yet, you probably are not reading much about sales theory. The most successful secure destruction sales and marketing efforts use the second and third scenarios described above. That’s great. Scenarios 2 and 3 are no doubt the sweet spot for the largest source of sustained growth for any company over time. That said, there are some tactics you can employ to exploit scenario 4, where the prospect is calling your company because it was strongly suggested they do so.

Most secure destruction companies have a big employer as a customer and, statistically, larger companies are more security conscious. Also, larger organizations utilize the services of lots of smaller companies with whom they share information. The thing is, while the large company may have a secure destruction program, they often don’t pay attention to the secure destruction programs of their smaller suppliers and subcontractors until you remind them, that is.

I personally exploited this strategy with major clients in upstate New York more than 20 years ago. I contacted the security department to discuss their local downstream vendors’ secure destruction practices, and, cutting to the chase, ended with more than 200 new customers in less than six months.

Hospitals offer another opportunity for this type of top-down, push marketing. Think about it, any decent-sized hospital is surrounded by minor medical facilities that are affiliated with the mother ship. If you’re doing business with that hospital (and have a good working relationship), you owe it to them to explain these affiliates could be putting patients at risk and that risk could reflect poorly on the hospital.

I admit it is not a slam dunk. I admit it takes finesse and confidence. But it does work, and when it works, it can lead to a strong bump in sales and, in many cases, from prospects that don’t currently have services in place.