Not long ago, I had a back and forth discussion with a sales rep who just simply wasn’t taking the correct route in regards to following up with a prospect. This undoubtedly happens all the time, but this particular instance perked my ears up a bit. To make a long story short, the rep engaged in pursuing a prospect with nothing but good intentions, yet ended up coming off as a stalker as a result of her approach.
Worst of all is the fact that she didn’t realize what it was that she was doing wrong, only that it wasn’t working.
To put things simply, the rep in question was devoting her time and energy to all the wrong aspects of prospecting. Instead of waiting to follow up with a prospect at the 5-6 month mark (as he had specifically outlined), she made an attempt to connect after only 1 month – 3 months in a row!
Hounding a prospect is an easy mistake to make when the right amount of care isn’t put into the prospecting process. Consider these three tips for following up with your prospects in a respectful, productive manner until they’re ready to work with you.
1. Don’t Ignore the Prospect’s Time-Frame Suggestions
Here’s a scenario to consider – you contact a prospect and they explain that now is simply just not the time to begin working together, and to get back to them in 6 months.
This is extremely common in prospecting.
It can be very tempting to contact the prospect ahead of time because you know something might have changed, but you must use extreme caution in doing so. While contacting them at perhaps the 5 month mark might be acceptable, getting in touch within a month’s time is practically stalking. Avoid the temptation. Give prospects the room they need in order to feel as if you’ve listened and respected their request.
2. Utilize the Proper Methods for Staying in Touch
While you should always respect your prospects’ wishes for when they would prefer to be contacted, there’s nothing wrong with staying in touch so they don’t forget about your interest in meeting with them. More often than not, however, sales reps take a route that doesn’t help them in the end, calling too frequently to try to set the appointment sooner than the prospect is ready.
You can get a lot of mileage out of sending a short, handwritten note, responding to their Linkedin comments, or emailing a relevant informational article every 5-6 weeks or so.
These prospecting strategies will help to show your interest, gradually build a relationship, yet not make it seem as if you want something from prospects right now. You’re just staying in touch.
Anything more and you’re pushing your boundaries.
3. Be Aggressive When the Time is Right
If you take a full-force approach to following up with the prospect prior to when they’re ready, your chances of alienating them will be extremely high. This being said, you can be aggressive with your prospecting strategy if you wait until the proper moment.
Use your prospecting follow-up strategy and don’t worry about holding back. Combine calling, voicemail, emails, drop-in visits and social media to connect. So long as the prospect expects you to get in touch, you shouldn’t feel as if you need to censor yourself.
Closing the first appointment is always a challenge, regardless of how long you spend crafting your value proposition. However, if you’re confident in your follow-up abilities and can keep the hounding temptation at bay, your chances of succeeding can skyrocket.
By Kendra Lee