I’ve got my prospect list - now what?

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First quarter is over, and we quickly approach summer – vacations and time out of the office means that it is twice as difficult to get a prospect to reply to your email, and even more challenging to get them on the phone! Take some time to analyze your sales process to ensure that hours spent prospecting become fruitful using thoughtful next steps.

Step 1: Put yourself in your prospect's shoes and be able to answer the question - “What’s in it for me?”

This relates to so many other seemingly obvious sales questions and objections, but it helps you to keep your audience in mind during each call and email. Every prospective client is different, and will have a different motivation for moving forward on a sale. Be sure you consider those motivations and account for them in your pitch. A great way to think about it is to hark back to the phrase "show me you know me". Knowing something about the client before you reach out gives you the ammo you need to be able to demonstrate what is in it for them. Touching on that pre-call research piece (even if it's just a quick check of twitter of their press release page) is a smart start.

This helps you to always keep the client top of mind - their needs, their objections, their overall goals – should guide your entire message. “I” shouldn’t be a word that you use frequently if at all in your copy.

Step 2: The Four C’s aren’t just for diamonds

Clear, concise, careful communication. An elevator pitch isn’t a cliche - it helps you to define your product/service/event and it’s overall value proposition in such a way that anyone can understand.

  • Clear – utilize straightforward and easily decipherable language
  • Concise – eliminate extra words. Flowery verbiage has no place in a sales email!
  • Careful – craft a deliberate message intent on the goals of the client
  • Communication – although this is the noun that the previous adjectives describe, it is also the final requisite! At the end of the day, your message needs to communicate that value proposition to your client – if you don’t do that, you may have just lost that prospect.

Step 3: Persistence pays off

Attempting a few different communication outlets – calls to your prospect, short voicemails that deliver interest and impact, along with brief email follow-ups combined can allow your prospect to take it all in, read through any links or initial materials you’ve provided, and follow-up using the outlet that is best suited to them. If you call just once, get a voicemail, and don’t follow-up using other formats (and later, by phone again), you haven’t given your client the courtesy of time and flexibility to get back to you!

It is especially important to consider these various types of messages through different channels to account for the type of person to whom you are selling. If you’re calling a millennial, they will likely prefer to respond to you via email; fail to provide them that quick easy outlet to reply back to your email message, and you’ll likely lose them forever. If you’re incessantly emailing an older CFO of a company, you may have the joint problem of being lost in the abyss of an endless inbox, and of reaching them in a way that doesn’t fit their preferences – they would rather talk through your offerings via a brief phone call.

Step 4: Focus, focus, focus

After your personalized email message last week, you were able to schedule a call with a solid prospect! You think you have all your key points nailed down and your elevator pitch committed to memory, but when you hop on the line with them, you see a text message pop up on your cellphone and lose your train of thought; then a coworker pings you on your phone line, so you hear the back-up ringer in the middle of your client call. To top it off, three short chat messages have popped up on your IM client. At this point, the call is for naught and you came off as unprofessional, and unprepared (two things you are not!).

Best way to prevent distractions? Plan ahead. Mark your work and personal calendars as busy during that time, turn your cellphone off or on do-not-disturb, and if your company has an internal chat software, mark yourself as busy or sign out. Keep open only those web tabs that you need to reference for the call, and ideally sign out of your email altogether. This way, you ensure that your complete attention is put to your client – this helps you to hear them, learn about their needs and goals, and offer them the products/services that best fit their organization.

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