What are the most effective techniques for attracting new customers? Referrals and one-to-one marketing, according to a survey of 900 sales and marketing professionals. What are the least effective? Trade shows and cold calls. The survey, conducted by the Nierenberg Group, in New York City, reported, "The message to sales professionals is that the shortest path to new customers comes from reviewing existing contracts and asking them who might give the warmest reception."

The survey asked the professionals to rate each technique on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being "not important" and 5 "very important." Here's how the responses stacked up:

Average rating
REFERRALS 4.8
ONE-TO-ONE MARKETING 4.5
DIRECT MAIL 3.8
TRADE SHOWS 3.2
COLD CALLS 1.5M