Did you know the average salesperson tries to follow up just two times with a prospect before moving on? However, 80 percent of sales require at least five contacts. While giving up too quickly can cause you to lose sales, chasing a bunch of dead ends will also cause you to miss out on worthy prospects. How can you find that perfect balance? How do you know when it's time to walk away and pursue other leads? Here are seven tips to help you identify prospects worth pursuing.
- Find out if there is a trigger. Businesses don't invest tons of money or undertake major system conversions for no real reason. There must be a business pain they are trying to solve. Find out what that is. If there is no real problem to solve, there is probably no sale to make. Even if there is a problem, ask what happens if the problem is unresolved. If the client doesn't see a huge disadvantage in not addressing the problem, they are unlikely to buy. However, remember triggers can come in other forms too. A change in leadership, a shift in their market, legal problems or a change in the products or services offered by the company may make them open to purchasing a solution. Is there a deadline? A definite date is a huge indicator that the client is ready to buy.
- Get some background information. Has the company tried to solve this problem in the past? What other solutions have fallen short? What has blocked the path of success? Finding out what didn't work previously will help you understand if your product can do the job. If not, move on. Conversely, background information may reveal that your product is a perfect fit.
- Talk about money sooner rather than later. Value is not based on money alone. However, if the client's budget and the cost of your product are at completely opposite ends of the spectrum, you're probably wasting your time. If the client already has a solution in place for their problem, ask how much they are currently spending. While they are usually willing to spend more for a better product, they probably want to stay in the same ballpark. Also, ask about financial decision makers that might need to be in the loop. It's more time effective to make one big presentation in front of decision makers than to have to come back repeatedly.
- Identify high maintenance customers. Even if a customer has the need and money to purchase a product, they might not be a good fit if they are unwilling to use a little elbow grease themselves. All implementations require work on the client's part, as well as adoption within the organization. Candidly ask what challenges they foresee with the plan or product you've proposed. Set expectations for both of you early so that you are not dealing with a high maintenance or unhappy client later, and they are not disappointed. Find out their definition of success. If you know your product can't deliver, back away instead of running in circles later trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
- Find out if they have skin in the game. What do they stand to lose or gain by solving their problem? A client that is an advocate for your product is more likely to get it pushed through higher layers of approval.
- Insert mini-agreements. On the initial call, ask if they see your product as a viable solution. If the answer is no, move on. If yes, you've laid the groundwork for further buy-in and possibly a final agreement.
- Set up the follow-up on the initial call. Every sales interaction, whether in person, electronic or over the phone should end with a next step. Can we meet on Monday? Would you like me to follow-up on Friday to give you time to consult with your colleagues? If a client is really a prospect worth pursuing, they will not hesitate to set up the next step in the process.
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