Your customers affect your livelihood, the success of your business, and the future of its existence.
Are you aware that there could be others influencing your business indirectly?There are those in your community or those somehow related to your line of work that have the capability to influence your potential customers and their buying power.
For example, ponder the pharmaceutical drug industry.
Are the drug companies themselves solely responsible for the choices that the general public makes when filling prescriptions?Of course not.
The physicians writing the prescriptions are the ones recommending certain medications over others.
There may exist two or more medications very similar in nature, maybe some even generic.
Pharmaceutical representatives know this and take the issue of influence very seriously.
They spend lots of time, energy, and money, giving doctors promotional products, gifts, and meals.
You too can make an effort to target these influential entities.
This is important for several reasons.
Make sure that these people or companies indirectly impacting your company are aware of the benefits of your products and services.
Those who influence your business have the potential to sway prospective consumers in the public.
If you establish rapport with them, the likelihood is that they will continue to help increase your business.
For a restaurant in a mountain resort town, local inns, spas, and bed and breakfasts could influence business significantly.
When tourists inquire about dinner, the concierge has his or her own opinions for recommendations.
It would be wise for a restaurant in such a town to establish pleasant connections to draw more business.
The same situation could apply to massage therapists, ski rental shops, boutiques, or art galleries in the town.
Work to identify categories of those who influence your company.
Then, target theseindividuals or their businesses.
Remember that they have the power to refer new clients to you.
How can you convey to them that you will be treating potential clients exceptionally well?Remember, their reputation and good word are on the line.
Use a personal approach.
Invite these influential people to dinner.
Give them free products or services.
Treat them well and prove to them that their referrals will receive the same.
Be careful in your approach to connecting with these key influential people.
Your first impressions will be powerful and lasting.
You do not want to set the tone for a personal or selfish agenda.
Offer an invitation to buy the person's lunch with the intention of getting to more about their own line of work.
Explain that you, yourself, have referred others to their company and want to be sure that you are thoroughly familiar with their company.
This means that the other party will obviously have the chance to reciprocate and learn the same information about you.
When you have made initial contact with such individuals, offer them a free or discounted product or service.
If you are a barber, give them a coupon for a free haircut.
If you own a tire store, offer them a discount on their next set of new tires.
If your business is a furniture store, let them know that you have a special price for them on their next purchase.
More importantly, be sure to send some clients their way- and let them know it.
You can call their business and mention, "I am sending a few people over to your store.
They're looking for an Oriental rug, and I told them you would take good care of them.
"These key people will appreciate your efforts and will return the favor- as long as your products and services are of good quality.
Finally, always take time to thank those who influence your business and help it expand.
The end of the year, or possibly the winter holidays, is a great time to reflect upon the new referrals that have come your way and to show gratitude to those who supported your business.
Send fruit baskets, wine, cookie bouquets, flowers, gift certificates, or cards to honor those that impact your business and to encourage them to continue.
Remember, just because someone isn't regularly spending a lot of money with your company doesn't mean that they are not indirectly impacting your livelihood.
Take some time to think about who is- or who is not- sending customers your way.
Use a positive networking approach and build those connections to generate continuous referrals.