The weather forecaster on the evening news is projecting a beautiful day, a beautiful week. This makes most people happy – but it makes you feel like throwing your dinner at the television. As far as you’re concerned, the weather is lousy with a capital L. You want extremes. Where’s a little global warming when you need it?
Unfortunately, you can’t control the weather (at least not outdoors), and moderate temperatures are the comfort consultant’s worst nightmare.

While you can’t control the weather, you can control yourself. In times like this, you’ve got three choices:

1) You can sit around the office moaning about the lack of leads.

2) You can make a career change. The local fast food restaurant is hiring. Would you like some fries with that?

3) You can do something about it. You can make business happen.

A true professional doesn’t whine about circumstances, he changes them. A true professional doesn’t try to predict the future, he creates it.

If you think that all of this sounds good, but you’re living in the real world and it’s tough, you’re right. It is tough. If it was easy for a salesperson to generate leads, we’d have more salespeople and fewer lawyers. Yet, just because it’s tough doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

You can generate your own leads. You can bump your sales through your own efforts.
Some things work immediately. Others take time and persistence. The last word is key. You must be persistent. If you want to generate your own lead flow, you can’t work on it every now and then, you must work on it persistently. Some days you’ll spend more time sowing than reaping, but you must sow the seeds of future sales a little every day. You must make it a habit.

The Power of Generating Your Own Leads

Nothing is more empowering for a salesperson than the ability to generate your own leads. It puts you in control of your career, of your income.

The salesperson who self-generates leads may not be the best closer. He may not be the most gregarious. He may not have the best sales presentation. Yet he does have the most sales.

There’s not a baseball player in the world who gets a hit every time he steps up to the plate. In fact, the record is 12 consecutive hits by Detroit’s Walt Dropo in 1952. Ever heard of him?

As of 2003, baseball’s exclusive 3,000 hit club numbered 25 people. Only three ballplayers recorded a lifetime batting average of 350 or higher and two of the three failed to make the 3,000 hit club.

In fact, five of the six players with the highest lifetime batting averages failed to achieve 3,000 hits in their careers. Yet, more than one out of five ballplayers in the 3,000 hit club managed the featdespite holding lifetime batting averages below 300.

It’s a silly comparison, right? The ballplayers in the 3,000 hit club must have had longer careers and more at bats. True. That’s the point. A good batting average helps a player, but doesn’t guarantee he would get the most hits, just like a good closing average doesn’t guarantee a salesperson will get the most sales. Over time, the baseball player who steps up to the plate the most will get the most hits, just as a salesperson who makes more sales presentations will make more sales.

In the words of Calvin Coolidge:
“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination are omnipotent. The slogan 'press on' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

Self-generating leads gives you more trips to the plate. It gives you more opportunities to make a sale, which will lead to more sales.

It Starts With An Attitude

So how do you do it? How do you generate leads, on your own, without the help of the company?
It starts with an attitude. You must first believe you can generate your own leads. You’ve got to believe that if you persistently sow the seeds, you will reap the harvest.

You must also be willing to try some different approaches. And why not? After all, if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got. In this series, we’re going to cover dozens of strategies for the bored salesperson who’s lacking leads. Some are direct lead generation techniques. Some are activities that will reinforce your lead generation activities. Others are techniques to improve your sales presentations. All are productive uses of your time during periods when the lead flow is down, and you’re sitting around the office bored.

Let’s start with the first two:

Think “Me, Inc.”

Start thinking of yourself as working for yourself. You run your own personal sales company that subcontracts the installation and administration. In a sense, think like a real estate agent. Have you ever noticed how real estate agents take charge of their own sales? They invest in themselves. They market themselves. They sell themselves. They take responsibility for generating their own listings. They do not wait for the broker to hand them leads.

Comb Through the Old Service Files

Thar’s gold in them thar files.

Look through the service records of your company and you’ll find a wealth of sales opportunities.
You’ll find recommendations for additional work by technicians (possibly leading to a replacement opportunity) that was never followed up on. You will find people with 20-year-old air conditioners and 30-year-old furnaces.
You’ll find customers that have had a bump in repairs over the past several years. They know replacement time is coming. Most people know it, but they dread going through the replacement sales process.
These people already have a relationship with your company. Call them. Tell them you were going through a review of service histories in the company files and noticed that they’ve got an old piece of equipment or an increasing amount of repairs. Ask them what their utility bills are running. Ask them if they’ve got any comfort problems, such as rooms that are always too hot or too cold. Since they’re an existing customer, offer to come out and perform a complementary comfort analysis. It won’t cost them anything, and you’ll be able to identify some ways they can improve their comfort and cut their utility bills.

Stay tuned for many more tried-and-true tips in this series.

Matt Michel spoke at HVAC Comfortech 2004 on marketing. This rant was solely the opinion of Matt Michel, CEO of the Service Roundtable (www.ServiceRoundtable.com), an organization dedicated to helping contractors prosper. Matt is also the publisher of Comanche Marketing, a free marketing e-zine. Subscriptions are available at www.ComancheMarketing.com. You can contact him directly at matt.michel@serviceroundtable.com. Or send your comments to Contracting Business at letters@contractingbusiness.com.