One of the most frustrating things when it comes to prospecting is keeping up with busy prospects that never return your phone calls and even fob you off when you try to arrange a meeting.
As salespeople this can be difficult and time consuming to deal with but sometimes the trickiest prospects can turn into the best clients.
A good example of this was a major agricultural company that we were trying to get in front of for the better part of two years. After the initial meeting the company said they were not interested as they had a provider from Auckland who had historically taken care of their sales training.
However, we made the minimum sale and got them to sign up to our newsletter, along with that we touched base every 6 months with our contact to see how things were going. This continued for a while without bearing much fruit.
Fate was smiling on us though, as one day at the airport we bumped into their sales manager, who exclaimed that they had just read our latest article on cold calling and found their staff were having the exact same problem!. Suffice to say we closed the sale and ended up training 10 of their frontline salespeople.
This story leads on to my first point:
If you can't close the deal – at least sell them your newsletter!.
At the very least, ask the prospect if they are interested in signing up to your mailing list. This way you stay front of mind. Yes, some may unsubscribe, but if they have a general interest in what you do, and you are adding value, they will stick around. This can lead to 'long game' sales that you can still close even after a long period of time has passed.
They say it takes at least 5 points of contact to make a sale, but many of us give up well before that. You need to walk the fine line between being persistent and not being pushy. Keep going until you get a NO.
Always add value.
If you aim to always add value, the busy prospect will in most cases respect that and give you the time, have a reason to call, or pay a visit. This could be a new blog you read that may be of interest, some industry Intel, or even bumping into them at a function and sharing a referral. Don't make interactions about your product; make it about the prospect and their needs.
Advance the sale.
Neil Rackham, author of SPIN, says there are four ways to finish a sales interview – a sale, no sale, a continuance and an advance. If you can't manage to close the sale then and there, or there are other parties involved in the decision, always aim to advance the sale. This in a nutshell, is setting the next point of contact, so you both know where you are at. You can employ this method when calling for the initial appointment, if you can’t get through straight away; leave a message letting them know you called and you will try again later, or the next day.
Call at Different Times
A simple but effective idea as many prospects have hectic schedules. You may be used to doing all you calling first thing between 9 and 10 but your new hot lead happens to be in meetings that same time every day. Change your call cycles to allow for this.
I'll finish with a quote from one of the best business and personal development writers out there, Napoleon Hill who said -
“Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.”
I hope you have a profitable month, thanks for reading.