As entrepreneurs, salespeople and marketers, we spend a great deal of time filling our pipeline with prospects and following up with them. As a result of this work, the chance of us capturing multiple sales is quite high, right? Well, not quite.
Although this strategy makes sense on paper, it often doesn't translate to reality. To close a sale, you need to speak with your prospects about their needs, tell them what you offer, how it benefits them and from there see if there is a match. But getting to the point of having this kind of interaction with your prospects is more difficult that you might think.
There are many reasons why prospects do not want to talk to you. Below are five reasons why you may not be getting those conversations, and ways around those barriers.
1. Your value is not clear to the prospect. When you write an e-mail, make a call or send direct mail, the prospect won't necessarily see the connection between what you do and how it can benefit them. You need to capture the prospect's attention by inspiring them with the benefits you have helped others attain. Once you have their attention, ask them what their needs are and clearly demonstrate how your product or service can help them.
2. You're an unknown quantity. One of the main reasons prospects don't want to talk to you is because they don't trust you. Consider boosting your credibility through speaking engagements, publishing articles, sharing compelling client successes or getting a mutual connection to introduce you to your prospect. All of these activities will help get over that initial blockade that exists in the mind of the prospect.
3. You believe that your prospects don't need what you offer. Salespeople often feel dejected when they learn that their prospects are already using a similar product to their own. While this may seem like a dead end, it isn't; in fact, it is an opportunity in disguise.
I find that when I go to market with my clients, there's always a competing product or service out there. But instead of getting down about it, we look to improve our product or service by making it more valuable or advantageous to the marketplace. To get over that roadblock, I help them find and create compelling competitive advantages that can come in the form of:
- A performance guarantee
- An additional product or service at little or no additional cost
- Additional features
- Pricing incentives
Whatever competitive advantage you chose to incorporate into your offer, it has to add value for your prospects.
4. You're too busy selling when you should be listening. When people are passionate about their product or service, all they want to do is share information about what they do and how it can change their prospect's business. There's certainly a time and place for this kind of dialogue, but make sure you understand their needs above all.
Like the experienced fisherman who gets to know the waters before he chooses the right kind of hook and bait, you too must get know your prospects before you can identify a problem and provide the right kind of value proposition for that problem. Ask them about their business, challenges, strategic areas they are focused on, trends in the marketplace they are facing - be a sponge for information. Take what you learn and bring that along with solutions to your other prospects. This is especially true if you are focused on a specific vertical market.
5. You give up too easily. What makes the difference between people who win business and lose business often comes down to the level of persistence with which they approach their prospects. How badly do you want to work with a specific client? Are you willing to reach out if they do not respond to you five times? How about 20 times? Would you continue to communicate with them?
Most people give up far too quickly. It can take months -- even years -- to break through to a prospect. I have gone as far as delivering 102 different communications over two years to hit a particular target of mine.
My challenge for you
Use a variety of different tactics when communicating with prospects. Keep it fresh, but most importantly, keep it consistent. The one who demonstrates the most pigheaded persistence and determination will always have an advantage over the one who gives up early on for whatever reason.
When trying to connect and build a relationship with a prospect this year, exercise one or two of the ideas above. With the addition of one of these ideas, it could significantly improve the approach you use to communicating with prospects.
Ryan Caligiuri is the founder of Ryan Caligiuri International, a growth consultancy focused on developing programs that generate credibility, competitive advantages, leads/demand and new revenue streams for small to medium-sized enterprises. Mr. Caligiuri is also the founder of The Growth Network, a mentoring program that teaches entrepreneurs and marketers best practices, frameworks and strategies to become business growth generators.
Engage with Mr. Caligiuri on Twitter.