#120: How to Get Valuable Insights Into Your Business by Tracking Your Inquiries

Before we get to this week’s episode, I wanted to let you know about an opportunity I recently opened up.

Starting next week, I’m about to work with a small group of freelancers to help them create and sell their first info product and generate passive income.

I’m looking for a handful of people to work with. And I specifically want to help create some success stories we can all brag about. 😉

Which means you’d have to be ready to work hard, implement, test and report back on results.  (You’d need dedicate at least 5 hours per week to learn and deploy the material I’ll teach you.)

If that sounds like you, please email [ed at b2blauncher dot com] with the words “Passive Income Coaching” in the subject line… and I’ll send you all the details.

I still have a few spots available. But we start this coming Monday, February 6. So time is of the essence.

Now for this week’s episode…

Have you ever tracked your prospect inquiries over a period of time? You’d be surprised how many insights you can get out of this simple exercise!

In this interview, my good friend Dianna Huff shares her results from her own inquiry-tracking effort. And she details the eye-opening insights that came out of this.

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.

Tell us about yourself

Dianna Huff is a marketing consultant who works with small, family owned industrial manufacturers. She started as a B2B copywriter in 1998. A couple years ago, she narrowed her focus to industrial manufacturers and shifted from copywriting to strategy and consulting.

You recently conducted an exercise inside your business that was revealing

Dianna decided to track all of her inquiries. It’s something she advises her clients to do to see what marketing activities are working. She decided to follow her own advice.

Although she was already using a CRM system, it wasn’t capturing all of the information she wanted. So she created a simple Excel spreadsheet with the following fields:

  • Date
  • Name of person
  • Name of company
  • Service needed
  • How they found her
  • Whether the inquiry converted into a job
  • Date sale closed
  • Dollar amount
  • Number of days to complete the sale.

After a few months, she had a couple findings:

1. Most of her incoming inquiries were related to Wikipedia page writing services.

At one time, Dianna offered Wikipedia page writing as a service but had stopped. Most of her inquiries were coming from an article she’d written on the topic for the Content Marketing Institute about five years ago.

She concluded that authoring guest articles is a good marketing tactic, but she needed to create content relevant to the services she offers today.

Guest articles are a good marketing tool if the content is relevant to your services.

She tried pitching trade journals but with no success.

2. The rest of her inquiries were coming from search.

Dianna didn’t want to rely heavily on search because search results can change dramatically at any time. She needed to diversify.

How were you able to diversify your marketing?

Dianna went through all her marketing assets and tossed anything that wasn’t working. She cut back on social media platforms, choosing to focus on Twitter.

She started following manufacturing companies, publications and organizations on Twitter. She started tweeting about manufacturing and re-tweeting manufacturers. She uses MeetEdgar to manage her social media content and schedule posts.

As a result of this activity, traffic to her website from Twitter went from two percent up to five percent.

In addition, she refocused her blog to focus on manufacturing, specifically targeting business owners who are manufacturers.

Now, her blog content is getting found better in search.

What offline stuff did you do?

In addition to these online activities, Dianna also reached to former clients to say hello and reconnect. She used Calendly to schedule calls. This outreach led to some new jobs.

Dianna also sent out some prospecting emails. She started by sending reformatted blog posts but didn’t get great results. She also tried direct mail with no luck.

Then she went through her email list and identified subscribers with company domain names. She checked their websites to make sure they were in her target market. She then created a segregated list and sent that group an additional monthly email with manufacturing industry updates. She successfully landed a couple gigs through this method.

What did you discover about your sales cycle?

Originally, Dianna thought it was taking her about a week to close sales. But she discovered that it was taking much longer on average—anywhere from a couple weeks to several months.

How did you deal with that reality?

This discovery made her rethink her cash flow process. Before, she’d been thinking about monthly cash flow. But because her sales cycle was longer, she need to start thinking quarterly.

She determined she needed larger cash cushion to ride out the ups and downs.

How large of a cash cushion we need?

It depends on how much cash goes in and out on average.

You can start with an initial amount of maybe $1500 to $2500. But having a cash cushion of one or two months income is ideal.

Putting aside one or two months of income will help you to ride out ebbs and flows in income.

Sometimes clients pay late. Checks get lost in the mail. Sometimes you have unexpected expenses. You need a cushion to get you through the lean patches.

Tell us about your cash flow guide

In January 2016, Dianna published Cash Flow for Freelancers. It contains the lessons she learned when she changed her business a couple years ago and her income temporarily plummeted.

She found that none of the personal finance books she read (and she pretty much read them all!) specifically address the special challenges of managing cash flow as a freelancer.

How can listeners learn more about you?

Dianna Huff’s website: Huff Industrial Marketing.