This week, I was cleaning files and found a few old prospects lists. They were just short mini-lists I had either written on a plane, or while I was not paying attention in a meeting. I make prospect lists when I want to feel productive, or I am bored and stuck doing something I cannot get out of. Writing out my prospects, looking at my pipelines, makes me feel both productive and confident.
As I looked at these old lists, I quickly got out a pen and piece of paper to see if any of these names were prospects I may have forgotten about and perhaps needed to make a call to. I was busy scouring my lists when one particular name caught my eye. A big conference that I had had on my prospect list for years, and one I always desperately wanted to close.
I remembered I had been chasing this prospect for years, trying any angle I could think of to get my foot in the door. Despite my best efforts, never, not once, not even a rejection, they had just never responded. So, on this old list, I had put them under the NO column. Which for me is something I rarely do (I have a whole strategy for what to do with non-responsive prospects that I will share another time). My only thought is that I must have been so frustrated with their lack of response that I counted them out, and just crossed them off my list.
However, I did not remember marking them “no.” So, I continued to call on them, sending emails, sharing articles, connecting on LinkedIn. Using all of my follow-up techniques that keep me visible without being annoying. Here is the funny part. The very day I found those prospect lists, the day I saw that I had put that prospect squarely in the “no” column, I closed a major contract to speak for them in 2018. How crazy is that?
It was such a massive reminder of how we never know what is going on with prospects. When my prospect, now client, called, she shared that she had wanted me for their conference for more than a year. However, they book their speakers a year and a half in advance and she had to wait until the timing was right. She also thanked me, yes thanked me, for staying in touch and continuing to keep her in the loop as to what I was doing and the value I could bring to her meetings. Sharing that she had brought all that to her committee, making the decision so much easier.
There we have it, closing sales is about having the hutzpah to stay in the game. Finding ways to keep in touch and add value to prospects, and continuing to build the relationship. Research tells us that most salespeople give up after the second or third call, and that ironically, most prospects don’t even begin to take notice until the 8th touch.
If you’re losing sales, chances are it is because you are not staying in the game. You are not remaining visible, and you are not top-of-mind when your prospect is ready to buy.
3 Strategies to Make Sure You Don’t Lose Prospects or Sales
Pause and Go
Prospecting is one of the hardest things we do. It is the art of contacting someone we don’t know to get them to buy something they don’t know they need. So, understand doing that may take a while.
You need a strategy that allows you the stamina to be in it for the long-run. I call this the pause and go. You put your foot on the gas and stay in front of them for three months. Then you pause take maybe a month or two off, then you go again. This ensures you are not bombarding prospects with emails, calls or social media contacts. Yet you are staying in front of them enough, so when they are ready to pull the trigger you are their vendor of choice.
Up the Value
Always remember that follow-up is about adding value, not winning business. What? Yep, you heard me the goal of follow-up is to add value, not to win business. Why? Because if you focus on winning business, then you are focused on yourself and your goals. Focusing on adding value ensures you put your energy and your resources where they belong – on your prospects. If you focus on adding value, then the business will come.
Get the Clue
There is so much good information in rejection or silence from a prospect. When they do not respond at all, or if they say no, you need to get the clue. They are telling you a couple of very important things. First, they do not see the value in doing business with you. Second, their need is not urgent enough, they have other priorities. So, your job is to get your ego out of the way (rejection is not a bad thing and it is not personal) and learn from what your prospect is telling you. Adjust your strategy and try again.
These are my ideas and strategies for how to open more doors and close more sales. I would love hear yours!