How To Convert Cold Prospects Into Buyers – My Cold Prospect Action Plan
We have all experienced it in sales; one of our hot prospects turns cold. It is not fun, but it is part of the game. I have developed my Cold Prospect Action Plan that I have used time and time again to convert my cold prospects into buyers.
There is nothing worse than having a prospect that expresses tons of interest and enthusiasm in your service or product upon initial contact and then seems to fall off the face of the earth when you try and contact them again…they don’t return your calls or answer your emails. It can appear like they lost interest in you all together.
When asked what the most important trait you need to have to be a successful salesperson, I always reply with “persistence”. Don’t confuse persistence with being annoying. You need to be focused on your objective and be able to stick to your action plan regardless of the pushback. You need to also be flexible and be willing to change your goals or tactics until you find the right combination that allows you to connect with your prospect.
THE DREADED “NO”
I never look at a “No” as a “No”. A “No” to me is simply a “Yes” that I have not gotten yet. I go into every call with that mindset and I keep in mind that I need the prospect more than they need me even though I know my product or service will greatly help their business. There is nothing worse than getting a “No” followed by the dreaded dial tone. When you have become so desperate and annoying to your prospect that they feel the only way out is to hang up the phone, then you can pretty much consider that “No” to actually mean “NO!” So let’s not let that happen!
There will always come a time when you have reached a point in the sales process with a prospect where they are simply not going to buy from you and you must resign to the fact that you must give up. Personally, I do not give up easily. In many cases I refuse to give up at all, so I change my course of action with that prospect and I begin to look at them with a long-term goal in mind. Hey, why not? I am going to need sales in the future just as much as I need them today. I would rather end the conversation on a positive and happy note with a cold prospect and leave the door slightly open for a future conversation. You never know what is going to happen in your prospect’s future as things my change and a need for your offering may develop.
The best way to handle this is to put that prospect in what I call a “cold prospect action plan”.
COLD PROSPECT ACTION PLAN
1) Develop other contacts (or friends) within the company.
When working with any prospect, I always try and define more than one contact within the company. I don’t do this to “go around the back” of the main contact, but I simply like to have more points of contact to get different perspectives on their problems, needs and wants. When I was selling printing machinery, I would always have contacts in executive management, production and maintenance. In many cases I would find that if my conversations stalled at the executive level, that my relationships with production and maintenance could turn them into advocates with management and help me unlock some doors. The old saying of “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” certainly applies here with regards to your points of contact.
However, what if you are working with a smaller company; perhaps the main contact is the only contact? In those cases, I try to identify customers of theirs and convert them into my advocates. When I was in online advertising sales, if I called a small company where the owner was the only contact and I was not getting anywhere, I would research online to find customers who love their product and talk to them about how I could better help the promotion of their product. It involves being creative and most importantly, listening so you can revise your plan to show the prospect options that can help their business.
2) Create an email list and add the prospect to a monthly campaign.
I have found that just because a prospect is not calling me back that it does not mean they are not interested. Many times their business has redirected them and caused your offering to be put on the back burner. The best way to gently move you back into the forefront of their mind is to reach out to them on a monthly basis with an email that offers something of value. Don’t email asking for the sale every month as no one likes to be hounded. However, if you can find some informative tips or even write some yourself that you think a prospect might find valuable then send different tips each month. This will show your prospect that you care about them and helping their business rather than only being out for yourself.
3) Use non-conventional “reach-out” methods.
I am not a huge believer in constantly reaching out to a cold prospect via email. Honestly, email has made a lot of salespeople today lazy. Rather than picking up the phone or mailing a letter, they figure they can simply write a short email, click send and their job is done. When you consider the amount of email that your prospect probably gets each day, your note will most likely get lost in the fray.
Rather than emailing often, go to your local stationary store, or use one of the many online services to send a post card to your prospect, or send a hand-written letter. Find an article online that you feel will help their business and print a copy out and mail it to them. Studies prove that in today’s world, regular mail is becoming much more effective than email for staying in touch with someone. Not to mention it takes a lot more effort to send that postcard or hand-write that letter than it does to send and email and your prospect will take notice!
Do this monthly!
4) Personalize your correspondence… with your face.
Have you ever noticed business cards, flyers, ads and listings for real estate agents? One thing most of them have in common is that they all have the agent’s photo on it. This allows the prospect to know who the person is that they are being contacted by. It puts a face to the pitch – so to speak. This is an opportunity to go a little outside the box and try and grab your prospects attention. You could simply use a head shot of yourself, which is better than nothing at all. However, maybe you have a cute photo of you with your child, or a photo of you with an inquisitive look on your face that you could use. I personally love using photos with me and my kids because it shows the prospect that I am not a “sales guy” but I am a family man. It brings you down to earth and takes the edge off the conversation. Family men aren’t scary after all, right? At that point you are simply a loving father who is working hard to provide for your family. There are also times when I like to use a photo with a looks as if I am pondering something or even one with a slightly funny look on my face. Again they show personality, which helps disarm the feeling that they are about to be sold to.
Words of caution… Don’t go over the top on the photos you choose. The idea is to disarm the prospect and get them to feel your personality and not be so threatened. If your photo looks like a mug shot after you just knocked off a liquor store, then I might pass on that one. If your idea of a funny photo is one that was taken during the middle of a drunken frat party, then I might pass on that as well. You don’t want the prospect to feel that you are a “wild card”. You want to build trust and get them to connect with you. You do not want them to be scared or not take your seriously.
While there is no guaranty that any of these tips will convert that cold prospect into a buyer, they will certainly keep you, your company and your message in front of them. You will find that when the time is right, the prospect will become hot again. Sometimes all it takes is a note from you at the exact right time, which will turn them around. It’s all about timing! The more creative you can be and if you plan to reach out with informative and relevant information on a timely basis, the more chances you have to reengage with your prospect.
A parting tip… Be sure to vary the time of the month or day of the week that you reach out to your cold prospects. If you try and automate this where on the 1st or 15th of each month, you are blasting an email, the prospect will catch on and after a while they will simply trash them without reading because you have trained them to know you are going to “pitch” them again on a specific day.
Variety is the spice of life! Add variety to your interactions with your prospects and you will spice up their lives and make yourself unforgettable.