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Stay in the Game
Guest articles > Stay in the Game
by: Kelley Robertson
After a great deal of effort you have finally made contact with a prospect. You meet with them and they express interest in your solution or offering. You send additional information and schedule a follow-up session. However, now you can't seem to make contact with your prospect. You leave a few voice mails, send several emails all to no avail. A seemingly hot prospect has appeared to turn cold.
Virtually every person who sells a product or service encounters this, and lately, it seems to occur more frequently than in the past. There are several reasons.
Decision makers are busier than they ever been. Their resources have been cut but they are still expected to deliver results. They have more fires to put out and more problems to deal with. Plus, if you are talking to a large corporation, the decision making process often moves at a glacier pace even if the project appears to be a priority during your initial conversation. Many sales people fail to understand that many decision makers have to jump through dozens of hoops before moving forward with a solution to their problem. Most key decision makers often have more projects on their plate and their priorities can change on a daily basis.
The key is to stay in the game. Leaving a voice mail or sending an email like, "Mr. Prospect, I'm just following up on our conversation to see if you are still interested in moving forward with the solution we discussed" does not achieve this.
Stay in the game by demonstrating your value. Do this by scouring newspapers, magazines and websites for information that will help them solve a particular business problem, preferably related to the solution you can provide. Send them an article, a newspaper clipping, or other related information. This may sound easy but it is actually challenging to execute and I speak from personal experience. This approach requires disciplined effort, time and planning.
Here are few ideas that will help.
The most important step is to schedule the specific follow up in your time management system. Whether you use an electronic device or paper system, you need to mark in your calendar specific action steps you will take to keep your name in your prospect's mind. I suggest that you allocate a few hours each week to look for information that will be valuable to your prospect.
At the beginning of each week, block a few hours of research time into your calendar to hunt for information that will help your prospect. Ideally, this time should NOT be scheduled during peak selling time. Instead use your down time. When you stop for a coffee or lunch use that time to surf the Internet or peruse through a trade magazine. Many sales people groan at this because it is a relatively boring process; however, it can pay dividends. Remember that some of the information you come across can be recycled and sent to several prospects which lead to the second idea.
Keep a file of the helpful hints, ideas or tips you find. Rather than recreate the wheel with each prospect, you can send them article that you read several months ago providing the content is still relevant. Your goal is to create an archive of a few dozen articles, newspaper articles or websites that contain pertinent information.
Next, you need to track the information you send to each prospect. The last thing you want to do is send repetitive information to your prospect. If you do not have a CRM system in place, you can use Outlook to record the pieces of information you send to each person. You can even send the same information to several people in the organization especially if they may be involved in the decision making process or if they can influence the decision.
How often should you send your prospect information of this nature? Unfortunately, there is no standard rule of thumb to follow. However, here is my perspective. During the first month, send something to your prospect every five business days. For the next two months, reduce this to weekly. Afterwards, send them something at least once a month. The larger the opportunity, the more important it is to keep your name in your prospect's mind and for you to stay in the game. One of the biggest mistakes sales professionals make is to start strong but finish weak or halt their efforts.
Use a variety of contact methods including voice mail, email and snail mail. Don't rely on one method and remember that a generic email or voice mail does not show your value but showing your prospect that you are a quality resource and a valued supplier does. Stay in the game by differentiating yourself from your competition.
© 2009 Kelley Robertson, All rights reserved.
Kelley Robertson, author of The Secrets of Power Selling helps sales professionals and businesses discover new techniques to improve their sales and profits. Receive a FREE copy of 100 Ways to Increase Your Sales by subscribing to his free newsletter available at www.kelleyrobertson.com. Kelley conducts workshops and speaks regularly at sales meetings and conferences. For information on his programs contact him at 905-633-7750 or Kelley@RobertsonTrainingGroup.com
Contributor: Kelley Robertson
Published here on: 13-Sep-09