Publishers limit their book sales when they see bookstores — bricks and/or clicks — as the only place through which to sell their books. If you want to sell 10,000 books through any retailer, you must get 10,200 people (with a 20% return rate) to go to Amazon.com or your website and buy one. But if you want to sell 10,000 books in non-retail markets, you can find one person to buy 10,000 of them – non-returnable and they pay the shipping charges. Which do you think is a more profitable way to sell your books?
How to do that? A logical first step is to find the names of people to whom you will sell. This is called prospecting — the process of searching for people who can buy your books. A prospect is the person who can make the decision to buy from you. They could be in corporations, schools, associations and the military.
The place to start is to describe the people most likely to benefit from your content. Who are those who could get the most from your information? Where do they shop? Attend school? Are they likely to join an association or the armed services? What companies could use your content to help them sell more of their products or help their employees? The answers to these questions define your prospects and your opportunities.
How to find prospects
Once you organize your target buyers in those segments, the next step is to search for the names of people to contact in each. Here are some of the most productive ways to get the names of potential buyers.
1. Get prospects to come to you (called “expert pull”) when you increase your visibility and reputation as the expert in your field. Make personal presentations, publish articles and get niche reviews. Perhaps the most ubiquitous form of expert pull is through social media. This includes blogging, podcasts, forums, discussion groups and social networking.
2. Another example of expert pull is to advertise in — or send articles to — local newspapers.
3. Meet with people personally. One-on-one networking is an organized way to make links from the people you know to the people they know, expanding your base of prospects.
4. Attend trade shows. You do not have to exhibit, but attend them to learn about the industry and network with the exhibitors and attendees who may be prospects. Find a list of conventions for your target segments at http://10times.com/
5. Advertising can generate leads economically. For example, associations need content for their monthly newsletters. Allow them to excerpt from your book in exchange for free advertising in their newsletters.
6. Associations offer other sales opportunities. Explore https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_industry_trade_groups_in_the_Unite...
for those related to your topic, and work each website for the name of the bookstore manager, newsletter editor, local-chapter president and meeting planner (who may hire you to speak to their meetings or become its spokesperson). Contact the membership chair to use your book as a fundraiser or a premium to increase membership.
7. There are many sources of leads for business prospects. Visit www.manta.com
for quick access to the names and contact information for people in businesses of all sizes. Get a free supplier profile in the Thomas Register of American Manufacturers
. Search for companies and individuals at www.hoovers.com
8. Search the Internet for potential buyers. If you want the name of the Vice President of Marketing at Company X, then perform a Google search for him or her. Go to a company’s or an association’s website to find a list of their staff and board members.
9. Join LinkedIn to find and connect with businesspeople with whom you can form a relationship before making personal contact.
10. Reach large numbers of people via postcards, letters and email. List brokers such as https://www.infousa.com/
sell lists of consumer businesspeople.
11. Get referrals from your customers. Ask them for the names of people in other divisions of their company, or their suppliers and customers who could use your book as a promotional tool.
13. Conduct teleseminars, webinars and seminars. Use these to reach prospects and capture names for your list.
14. Build a prospecting element into your website. Place benefit-laden descriptions of your titles there and make your literature or catalog easy to download. Gather names by offering something for free.
Searching for prospective buyers of fiction
Authors of fiction have even more prospecting opportunities. People read novels while traveling, vacationing, in hospitals and while serving in the navy onboard ships. Search for buyers at cruise ships, travel sites, parks, museums, bus tours, airlines, limousine services, B&Bs and others as appropriate to your title. Suggest your book as a premiums or gift to be given to people for doing business with them.
Prospecting for new business is similar to exercising. It will produce positive results if you do it routinely. It takes time, but if your sales pipeline is always filled with potential customers, then you are in for a future of positive revenue flow.