An interesting question: When do you decide it’s not worth calling that prospect for the umpteenth time? Well it depends on the prospect. If you know for sure that you have exactly what a specific prospect needs, then you will never stop calling on them. This isn’t to say that you call them twice a week for the next eighteen months, but you want to make sure that you have some sort of sequence or cadence to your calls and touches. And “touch” is the operative word here.
First of all let’s get rid of those prospects who are not a good fit. If someone does not come close to fitting your ideal customer profile, and they seem unreceptive, then it is time to move on. Especially if they are not a good fit. And by that I mean they might buy from you one day but even if they do their requirements are going to make for an uneven relationship. For people like this, I think getting them on your email list and using the company email newsletter for the majority of your touches is the best use of your time. If you or they are amenable to you checking in from time to time that’s okay too, but the key here is your time has value, the same as theirs does. You want to make the best use of that time and chasing poor fits is not the way to do it.
That takes care of the marginal fits, the ones where you have to squint to think they would be a great customer. But what about the ones that you are are drop dead perfect. The companies that use what you specialize in now. These are the people you never give up on. And even if you can see the fit is perfect, they may not realize it themselves. They are going to tell you that their suppliers are great and that those suppliers are doing a great job. They are going to tell you they don’t need another company that supplies what you supply. They are going to tell you that the head office is demanding that they reduce the number of vendors they work with. They are going to tell you there is no budget or no time to develop another source. They are in what I once read is called “even keel” mode…and people in even keel don’t want to rock the boat. They are going to tell you all of those things…but if they are that really good fit, then just keep at it.
Now don’t get me wrong here, I don’t want you making a complete pest of yourself. Nor do I mean bugging them to the point where they are ready to issue a restraining order on you, no not at all. Remember that operative word I mentioned back in the first paragraph?
Your job now is to stay in touch with your perfect prospect so that you will only be a phone call or an email away when they need you.
Here are a number of ways to stay in touch with your perfect prospects on a regular basis without bugging or offending them:
Email newsletters. Get them to sign up for your value added newsletter…even if you don’t really have one in your company! I know sales reps that are taking material from all over their companies and sending their own newsletters to prospects – even when their company already has a newsletter! Put together a custom newsletter filled with tips and tools and other information custom made for your perfect prospect.
Share industry articles and content. You can also stay in touch by sending that hard to know buyer something that is of particular interest for him or her. It can be business or personal appealing to something that pertains to her company or something that pertains to a hobby or interest he told you about. You can share things you find on the web. I like using LinkedIn because I can search it for keywords and phrases and then search for content with those in them.
Promotional items. Every sales person and more importantly every company should seriously consider buying some promotional items that will keep you in front of the customer at all times. It can be something as simple as a really cool coffee mug with your company’s logo on it; or some kind of desk tool, a memo pad, or a pen or a clock anything that has your company’s name and contact information on it but also something so cool as well as useful that the buyer will keep it on his desk instead of taking it home to his kids. Calendars are a great idea. Either a large twelve month wall hanging calendar or one of those cool ninety days at a time calendar. You can even design your own custom made twelve month calendar that is filled with your company’s information and dates. Everyone says promotional stuff is hokey, but there is a reason that the promo industry is still around – it works!
Phone and email touches. And finally the good old well-paced and well placed touch through a phone call or an email that just lets the perfect prospect know you are still out there waiting to provide her with the perfect solution to her exact needs.
These are all ways you can stay in touch with your perfect prospect by doing it the right way; providing her with something useful it will always be a positive reminder of you and your company so that when that day finally comes – one of those till now solid suppliers screws up or goes out of business, or when it becomes questionable that old supplier can meet the customer’s future needs, or best of all when they are in trouble and need a favor fast…who are they going to call? You that’s who. The person that consistently, politely and repeatedly stayed in touch. It’s only common sense.