|Don't let the cloud fool you. That's negative 17 degrees.... Click to enlarge.|
Without a winter coat, a good pair of mittens, and a warm drink, you probably wouldn't last too long.... These extreme conditions apply to business too because no business can drive sales with frozen leads. While finding quality leads is challenging enough, warming up those leads can be even more difficult. As you apply your sales strategy for the new year, consider these ideas for keeping prospective buyers interested and active.
1. Take Your Time
Nobody wants to feel as though they're being overtly sold a particular product or pressured into making a buying decision that might not be right for them. Yet many sales reps are very quick to launch right into a sales pitch or offer quick-fix solutions without fully understanding a prospect's needs. This approach tends to turn off a lot of prospects and quickly freeze or kill leads.
Instead of launching right into your sales speech, start the conversation without broaching the subject of sales at all. For example, if the lead came from a list of customers who are using an outdated software system, begin by asking how the current system is working for them. Some companies may not even realize that they should consider updating. Approaching the subject from this perspective can seem less pushy and help the prospective customer feel more comfortable talking with you. From there, you can gradually ease into a more sales-oriented conversation.
2. Build Rapport
Get to know your prospect and their particular needs before discussing budgets and product specifications. Then tailor your approach accordingly. Establish rapport and let your customer see that you have a genuine interest in solving their problem, not just making a sale. Even if you don't make an immediate sale, your prospect will leave the meeting with a more positive impression of your company and will be more likely to turn to you when they're ready to make a purchase in the future.
3. Follow Up
Don't make your first meeting with a prospect your last contact with that person. Follow up to remind them what you talked about and to keep your name top of mind. A poll conducted by B2B Marketing Magazine found that 69 percent of buyers preferred to have companies follow up with them through e-mail. Telephone follow-up finished a distant second, at 17 percent. SCi Sales Group found that 52 percent of buyers expected a call back from companies within one day, and another 36 percent said they expected to hear back from a company within five days. Failure to meet buyers' expectations on these issues can result in a variety of missed opportunities.
4. Resurrecting Dead Leads
Sometimes, despite the best of intentions, leads die. Some, however, can still be resurrected. Successfully generating sales from a dead lead requires tact and the right tools.
Once a lead has frozen, it can be difficult to determine if the prospect still has a need for your product. Your first step should be to determine this potential. Remember again that prospects don't appreciate pushy sales tactics. Instead, try sending a brief, one or two line email to determine if they're still interested in your product. If the response is positive, follow up right away with a phone call, asking for a time to sit down and meet. In your meeting, steer the conversation toward the prospect's needs and solving their problems, rather than focusing on your product or pushing for a sale.
Keeping leads alive and healthy is an important part of doing business. In the rush to get as many leads as possible, it's easy to let some leads freeze and die. These leads, however, can be a major source of revenue for your company. Learning how to keep leads alive or thawing out the frozen ones is an important skill... And one that can improve your company's bottom line.
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