How To Successfully Deal With Hot And Cold Prospects
By Stacy Karacostas
It happens all the time...You get a call or email from a prospect. They sound interested, and interesting. You chat. It goes swimmingly...Perhaps so much so that you're already mentally shifting your calendar to fit them in.
Then, suddenly, they start giving you the cold shoulder. Or come up with some lame-sounding excuse for why they can't move forward just yet (these usually arrive via email).
You go from excited about this hot knew prospect, to slightly deflated, a little frustrated, or possibly even incredibly worried about where your next client is going to come from now.
Maybe a touch of self doubt even starts to creep in. Thoughts like, "What's wrong with me and my services?" and "They seemed so excited to get started...What happened?" tend to follow.
Well, I can't answer the first one for you, but I can tell you exactly what's happened in 99% of these instances...Life happened!
Yep. You read right. Life got in the way of you working with that top-notch, seemingly red-hot prospect.
Here's the deal. Most people are going to call because they have a problem they believe you can help them solve. And right that second, this problem is a biggie. It's top of mind and top of the to-do list.
So they make calls, interview service providers, and start deciding who to hire. Then, something happens...Literally.
And that something suddenly makes the problem they called you about WAY less of a priority. Now, because they have other, more pressing issues to deal with, you've been placed on the back-burner.
Depending on how pressing the original problem they called you about really is, they may become hot for your services again in a few days or weeks. But there's a good chance more things are going to come up for them that take priority. So you could be on the back burner until that red hot prospect turns icy cold.
Thankfully, that doesn't mean they won't warm up again. It's just that you might not still be top-of-mind when they do.
What should you do in the meantime?
First, keep in mind that no matter how disappointed you are, or how much you need the money, it's your job be the consummate professional when they decide not to move forward.
Then, even more importantly, it's your job to stay in front of them until they are ready to move forward again—without coming across like a pushy salesperson or pest.
How? Here's a short list of inexpensive ways to stay top-of-mind for the long hall...
1) Collect their contact info (at least email, ideally physical address too)
2) Keep a copy of your notes regarding their business and needs. That way you can reference details down the road.
3) Immediately send a thank you card after you chat. They took the time to find and call you. The least you can do is let them know you appreciate their efforts.
4) Ask if you can put them on your newsletter list. This could be email or snail mail. Doesn't matter. Just be sure your newsletters offer valuable information, not just sales pitches or coupons.
5) Follow up periodically with information that may be of interest to them. If you run across an article you think might be helpful, pop in an envelope and send it on.
6) Send birthday and holiday cards. Don't just do this for your clients, do it for prospects too so they know you are thinking of them.
7) Be a great resource. If they keep getting valuable info from you, they'll want to keep hearing from you. That's good for everyone involved.
Keep it up and before you know it, the problem that originally brought them to you is likely to rise to the top of their priority list again. When it does, those icy prospects will get all hot and bothered again. And who do you think they'll call...???
About the Author:
Practical Marketing Expert Stacy Karacostas, founder of SuccessStream Sales & Marketing Solutions, specializes in taking the stress, struggle and confusion out of growing your small business. She's the author of the 2-page marketing plan workbook Putting Your Business on the Road to Success, and The Small Business Website Bible. Stacy also writes the fun and informative Marketing Junkie blog and Bright Ideas weekly newsletter. For more practical, business-building wisdom help yourself to a copy of her free report The 7 Deadliest Small Business Marketing Sins... Are You Guilty?
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