Very often I get the question from clients and sales people as to how many times one should reach out to a prospect before being viewed as a nuisance. The answer is often very surprising.
Until they respond!
I never, ever give up on a prospect unless they tell me to never contact them again, which happens very rarely. As you know, my word is consultative sales, and selling in a consultative environment requires not only to establish a process, but also being professional and consistent. I work with companies to help them grow their business so prospecting is a big part of what I do. In all the years that I have been doing this (thousands and thousands of e-mails and phone calls) as well as teaching my clients how to develop business, there was one single case of a person who got upset. To this day I am convinced that the person had a chip on their shoulder, or a really bad day. In any event, his response was not professional and for that very reason should be dismissed.
Prospects don’t get upset when you target them frequently. They might get irritated when your communication is irrelevant. As a sales person in a consultative sales environment, you need to research the people you are targeting and then craft your message so it resonates with them.
Every sensible business person knows that they will be called on by other companies that provide services. Nobody in business will hold that against you. What they will hold against you is offering a service that doesn’t meet their need and then trying to push a sale where there is no fit.
Here is my rule of thumb. When I start prospecting a new person, I usually contact them every two or three business days. My outreach is a mix of e-mails, follow-up phone calls and follow-up emails. And that’s the way it works in a consultative sales environment.
You might think that’s overkill? It’s really not. Consultative Selling is a process, it only works when we stick to it.
Very often we assume that prospects remember our messages and phone calls. They usually don’t. Most of our prospects get inundated with information. Unless it is something that they are really looking for at that very moment, it will take some time to get their attention. But it doesn’t matter. Stick to the three “B’s” – Be courteous, Be professional and Be relevant. You will eventually get a response.
What’s also important. Give your prospects a path “out”. Invite them to tell you that they are not interested, so you get to a quick “no”, or “not now” and you can move on to the next prospect. That doesn’t mean that they will never be interested (unless there really isn’t a fit) but it means that right now there is no burning need to have a meeting or in-depth conversation.
Another area that is overlooked is the art of repetition without sounding like a broken record. Again, prospects don’t remember the first time (or even the fourth) you reach out to them. Developing a unique message that represents your service offering and delivering the same message multiple times in new and unique ways can give you a competitive edge. Play with your words and be personal in the way you communicate.
Again, your prospects will appreciate your persistence as long as you are professional and on target. Happy selling!Tags: consultative sales, consultative selling, prospecting