“If You Throw Enough Spaghetti at the Wall, Some of It Is Bound to Stick”

This was the motto of the CEO of the last company that I worked for and I must admit that the amount that “stuck to the wall” generated a ridiculous amount of profit for this company.

With a custom-built email engine designed by ex-husband/master programmer that could send out more than 1 million emails per hour, this company literally spammed almost everyone on the planet and made a lot of money (this is also one reason why I stopped working for them.)

However, in order to take the spaghetti tossing approach to sales, you’ve got to have a mechanism that will toss a lot of spaghetti at a very large wall – and that doesn’t often come cheap.

The Sniper’s Approach to Sales

As a sniper, instead of having fistfuls of spaghetti to the toss, you have one bullet – one chance to hit your mark. You plan out your mission, set your sites, concentrate, aim, and fire. A person with a machine gun who could afford 10,000 bullets may be able to hit 50 targets by firing randomly into the air while the sniper’s approach is to hit the same 50 targets with 100 bullets and a well-executed plan.

When I sold insurance for GEICO, I was among the top 10% of salespeople in the San Diego office. (Selling a product like auto insurance that no one wants and hopes to never use is definitely a great way to build your sales skills.)

Most of the top salespeople used the spaghetti tossing approach. They would burn through calls, taking as many applications as possible to get that percentage of sales that would “stick.”

I took the sniper approach to sales, spending a lot of time building relationships on calls with fewer people. I didn’t set out to take this approach; I just really enjoyed talking to people and solving their problems and had a hard time herding them through a series of rushed questions. As a result, I had one of the highest closing percentages in the entire San Diego office. While the top spaghetti tossers had closing ratios of around 45%, my closing ratio was around 70%.

Knowing how this worked helped me tremendously when I set out to start my own business with very little (none in fact) financial resources.

Why The Spaghetti Tossing Approach Isn’t Entirely Effective For Most Small Businesses

At GEICO, the salespeople could afford to burn through calls because GEICO had already dumped billions of dollars into throwing a LOT of spaghetti on a lot of walls. Their TV commercials, radio commercials, sponsorship deals, etc, generated an endless stream of incoming calls. From my recollection, I believe it cost the company upward of $80 just to make the phone to ring. Customer acquisition costs were even higher with each sale costing the company about $500 if my memory serves correctly.

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The small business owner that doesn’t have tons of money to spend on lead generation and customer acquisition must adopt a sniper’s strategy – and then expand on it.

If you were a solo sniper charged with taking down an entire enemy army, wouldn’t your one bullet be better used taking down an influential leader rather than one of the troops?

In my earlier post titled “How I made $100,000 By Spending 25 Minutes and $0 on Marketing,” I talk about how 15 “bullets” generated enough leads for me to fill my schedule for two entire years. I did this by targeting my sales at influential people that could refer my services to many, many others and by making it profitable for them to do so.

As a small business owner on a budget that wants to make more sales, you will often be much more effective if you stop focusing entirely on the end customer and redirect your sales strategy to target those who will recommend your product or service to their clients and contacts who already trust them.

Try this Exercise:

Make a list of people who are already selling to your client and are in a position to recommend your products and services to them.

Call them or email them and tell them what you have to offer and why it will benefit them. ASK them if they have any current clients in mind that may need your product or service.
Create a page on your website that speaks to referrers and lists the benefits of referring your product or service.

Develop a downloadable resource or page that can be accessed only by a link you provide that will make referring your products or services EASIER. Offer this in exchange for them entering their name and email address in a contact form so that you may build a mailing list of highly targeted, influential prospects. The resources you may want to include on this page are:

  • An email that referrers can customize and send to their list of contacts
  • A list of questions frequently asked by the end consumer to help the referrer when explaining your product or solution to those who need it.
  • Sales copy that the referrer can add to their website to promote your products and services
  • An explanation of how the referrer will benefit by referring your products and services.

You don’t even need all of these steps to start generating sales/leads/work. Just doing #1 and #2 will be enough. Don’t place your efforts on hold until you have items #3 and #4 in place – these are just enhancements.

By laser targeting the right people, you don’t need a super high-tech email engine that will send out a million emails per hour. You don’t need billions of dollars in television commercials. You don’t need to dump thousands of dollars into Pay Per Click.

Building good old fashioned relationships with the right people can bring you more business than you can handle.

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