1. Make a list of all the important questions (you didn’t ask). We get so excited when we see a new opportunity that we forget this is a business transaction. We need to have just as much information to make sure that this is as good a fit for us as it is for the prospect. Be sure to ask these questions at the beginning of every opportunity.
a. Budget: Ask, “What is your budget?” People are afraid to discuss money with their prospects, but this is a vital part of the process. Another way to ask is, “Do you have a budget to support this endeavor?”
b. Decision: Ask, “Besides you, who is part of the decision-making process?”
c. Timeline: Don’t ask, “When do you want to begin?” Instead, get buy-in from the prospect by asking, “In a perfect world, when would you like this product delivered?” By answering that question they are already visualizing the end-result you’ll deliver.
d. Criteria: Ask, “What criteria will you use to move forward in choosing me as your vendor?” “How are you going to make that decision?” “What are the components of the decision- making process for you?”
2. Personality. Can you identify with the prospect and the type of personality you are selling to? It is important to match your approach to your prospect’s personality type. (Research “DISC” to become skilled at recognizing personality types).
3. Don’t pressure the prospect. Everyone is feeling enough pressure right now; additional pressure from you will only make them run. Besides, you’ll start to sound anxious, and no one wants to do business with someone who is desperate.
4. How can you add value? If people do not feel as though they are receiving a good deal, you are not going to get their business. What are you offering that your competition isn’t? Can you give them something more?
Also, how is your product or service presented or packaged? Are you presenting it as a value-added benefit, or are you simply saying, “I am going to give this to you for free”? How you say it makes a difference. People don’t necessarily want to hear that they are getting something for free. Instead say, “You are valuable to me and because of that I am including [x] …”
5. Pick up the 30-lb telephone and call. Don’t hide behind email! Nothing beats having a real conversation with someone. Which leads right into Point #6 …
6. Clear up the silent confusion. When you do get the prospect on the phone, apologize for not being able to connect with him. This immediately relieves the stress and puts the ball in your court. Say, “Since I haven’t spoke to you in a while, I just want to let you know that my reason for calling is not to move the project forward. I am assuming you’ve already chosen another vendor, and I just want to make sure that I can keep you on my mailing list. Is that okay?”
7. Go for the assumptive “no” and allow the prospect to tell you otherwise. When you hear that he’s not made a decision yet ask, “What additional information do you need from me in order to feel more comfortable in making your decision?” This question will also help transition into the important questions from Point #1.
Let’s say that your prospect still isn’t budging. You’ve done everything but send a smoke-signal, and you still do not get a response. What do you do?
8. Get creative. No response via telephone? If it is appropriate for the prospect, send an attention-getting message. Send a shoe labeled “Trying to get my foot in the door” or a jam and muffin basket with a tag reading “I’m in a jam and really need to speak to you.” Your prospect will respond to you – guaranteed.
9. When all else fails, keep them on your mailing list. I have personally experienced a situation where it has taken me over a year to gain a client’s business. They just weren’t ready to make a decision. Keep them on your mailing list to continue the conversation.