Featured Article12 Questions to Get a Jump Start on the Year Ahead
Each December, like many other people, I reflect on the year past and the year ahead. I focus this reflection with 12 questions. I note highlights and lessons learned; how I have evolved; the memorable moments and the various goals I’ve advanced towards – and more. Often, I’m surprised by how much I achieved. As we trudge through our busy lives we are often thinking about all we have not done or achieved. So I invite you to use these questions to take stock and consider your intentions and aspirations for 2013.
The Year Past:
1) What went well?
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Nurturing Prospect Opportunities
|Productivity - Prospecting|
|Written by Dave Kahle|
You have made a call or two on a prospect, qualified them, and rate them as high potential. The problem is they don’t have an opportunity at the moment. Lots of potential, but it’s all down the road a bit. Your challenge is to maintain contact so that when they do have an opportunity, you have a chance at it.
Let’s consider all your options.
First, you can generate a regular series of emails. Put them into an auto-responder, select a series of messages, and press “go.” They will get the messages you send on the frequency that you determine. That’s a very efficient solution. Once you get the auto-responders set up, it is just a few clicks and you’re done.
It may work, too, if you have personalized the messages, and delivered something of value each time, and if they don’t have a lot to do and don’t get a bunch of email messages every day. If any of these things aren’t true for the situation, you will find that your email messages will go unread, or worse yet, banned from their inbox. Of course, there isn’t anything very personal about a series of auto-responder messages.
How about the other side of the spectrum? Instead of taking the “highly efficient but not very effective” approach, you try “effective but not at all efficient” strategy. You decide to personally visit every two weeks. Great idea if …
• they have a lot of extra time and can visit with you whenever you ‘drop by.’
• you have something new to discuss each time you visit.
That’s probably not going to happen, so maybe that’s not such a great idea after all.
So what now?
Let me suggest a powerful medium. SNAIL MAIL! That’s right. Here’s an approach that may work for you.
1. Create a series of “case studies” or “success stories.” These are one page descriptions of other customers for whom you have done something similar. Maybe you solved a similar problem, or solved a problem in a similar kind of company. Regardless, on one side of one piece of paper, describe the customer, their issue, and what you did to solve it. If you can get a short quote from one of the key people in that company, great. If you can add a little visual interest with that customer’s logo, or a photograph of the building or the people, even better.
2. Print a few of these. Send one on a regular basis to your prospect. Stick a hand-written sticky note to each one, with a personal message, hand written, by you to them. Mention their name. Use yours. Hand write the address on the envelope. Put a stamp on it.
3. Now, fold into the mix a few personal email messages and an occasional visit, and you’ll have a multi-media stream of touches that will deliver something of value to the customer, keep your name in front of him/her, and demonstrate your company’s ability to bring solutions to folks like him.
One of the challenges in the situation is that there is not a lot you can do to force the opportunity to the forefront. Like a child in a mother’s womb, it will come when it is ready. Your task is to keep your name and your company’s capabilities in front of the prospect so that when it is time to act, you are on the short list of people to contact.
That requires that you begin to nurture a personal relationship with your contact person. But, the best sales people understand that a personal relationship only takes you so far. You must add a growing knowledge of your company’s capabilities to the personal relationship. You can be the greatest, most entertaining and attractive person in the world, but if they don’t believe your company can deliver a value-added solution, it doesn’t matter.
Delivering a case study in the manner described above solves both problems. The personal note is a one-on-one touch, delivering a “feel good about you” impact on the prospect, while the detailed case study demonstrates your company’s capabilities.
Mix a handful of these with a few personalized emails, a couple of phone conversations, and an occasional live visit, and you’ll have a system that will keep the prospect aware of you for months.
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