Friday, January 2, 2009

Who Seduced Your Prospect While You Fell Off the Grid?

Happy New Year!

If you've slipped at all in your prospecting and follow-up with clients over the holidays, nothing is a better motivator to get back on track than a fresh start. While you're getting back on track, maybe a little patience would be a good resolution as well! Sales trainer Adrian Miller has some excellent advice for salespeople frustrated with a long, drawn-out sales cycle. Practice patience, and you'll win the race!

"Patience is a virtue. Sure it's an age-old adage, but it's still very relevant when it comes to managing prospects," says Miller. "Too many of us, especially when times are challenging, tend to lose our cool and give up on relationships before they have reached fruition. Prospecting cycles can often be long and tedious. The key is keeping the proverbial slowpokes on the grid so your competition doesn't take them away. So, cool your jets and read these important tips on maintaining your prospects while they inch forward towards buying from you."

Be Realistic
In a perfect world, you'd make a presentation, and prospects would decide right on the spot that they immediately must have what you're offering. Unfortunately, little things like budgets, cutbacks, management approvals, and expenditure planning seem to get in the way.

Often times, your prospects might simply have their hands tied when it comes to buying anything right now, but that doesn't mean that they won't when the time is right. Find out what is preventing a decision from being made and when a purchase is likely to happen. Be patient and understanding, and you'll probably be rewarded with a sale.

Add Value While Biding Your Time
Ok. You've made your presentation, and there's definite interest but no movement yet. That doesn't mean that you should sit back and wait for them to call you. On the contrary - this is the time to add value in a relationship with a prospect.

Start thinking of ways that you can stay in the forefront of their thoughts without looking like a pushy salesperson. It's all about providing those little extras that show that you care. What kinds of little extras? Well, start with keeping them connected with a regular newsletter and email blasts that you send to your clients. Send them industry publication articles on topics that might be of particular interest or invite them to an upcoming trade event or networking get-together. You might just provide them with a useful new business strategy or a valuable contact through your efforts.

Hang in There, but Play It Smart
Prospecting cycles can sometimes drag on for years and then result in valuable business. Other times, prospects can keep you hanging without any intention of buying. It's your job to determine who has real potential and who is just stringing you along. Sometimes, it's hard to tell, and certainly, the best way to determine their viability is to ask lots of questions and keep them close during the process.

Finally, the worst thing you can do is to simply give up and let them fall off the grid without knowing if there was true potential or not. What you don't know will certainly be found out by your competition, who will willingly take the business from you!

Adrian Miller is the President of Adrian Miller Sales Training, a training and business consulting firm that she founded in 1989, delivering sales-level performance training and executive-level business development consulting for your unique business. A nationally recognized lecturer, she is also a sought-after conference speaker, and an accomplished author of "The Blatant Truth: 50 Ways to Sales Success".

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