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Prospecting: Building an Advocate Army

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By John Boe

One of the greatest concerns facing all salespeople is prospecting for new business. As a commission salesperson, your livelihood is directly dependent on your ability to prospect effectively. Do you consistently ask for referrals? To be successful in the sales profession you need assistance from your clients in the form of referrals. An advocate is an individual that will go out of their way to recommend you to their friends and associates, and average salespeople do not invest their time nor spend their money developing clients into advocates.

Obviously, the more people saying good things about you and your company in the marketplace, the more sales you will make. I have never seen a salesperson leave the profession because they had too many qualified prospects to work at one time. Building an advocate army doesn’t happen over night, but the time, money and effort required to develop advocates is certainly worth it. Most clients are initially reluctant to provide referrals and need to be encouraged and trained. Cows don’t give milk; you’ve got to work for every drop. To become effective, advocates need to be trained and motivated. Advocates aren’t born they’re developed!

How do I go about finding my advocates?

• Begin by creating a list of your existing advocates. Clients that have already referred prospects to you automatically become part of your advocate army.

• Review your client list for potential advocates. Identify those clients that have done business with you, but have not yet referred a prospect to you.

After I’ve identified my list of advocates and potential advocates, what do I do next?

• Let your existing advocates assist you in training your potential advocates. Develop an action plan to contact your potential advocates and invite them to a breakfast or lunch along with one or two of your best advocates. This low-pressure approach is effective because you merely guide the discussion and allow your advocates to share their referral techniques.

• Stay in contact. Put your advocates on a suspense list to contact them quarterly. Consider calling or mailing them something of interest, such as an article or newsletter.

How do I reward my advocates?

• Send them a thank you card and or call them to thank them for referring a prospect to you. Keep them informed on the status of their referrals.

• Consider giving them a small gift for their involvement, such as a gift certificate to a local restaurant.

John Boe presents a wide variety of motivational and sales-oriented keynotes and seminar programs for sales meetings and conventions.

For more information, visit www.johnboe.com.

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