In the first part of this blog series I discussed the concept of prospecting as in relation to the dual nature of selling. In this post I will focus on selling and acquisition of the customer. Or the conversion of prospect to customer.
So your pipeline or sales funnel is slammed full of prospects that have either expressed a need or a want for your product or service. What steps does one take to convert them from prospect to customer? Well, there are many different techniques one can employ depending on the industry and complexity of the sale.
First, get to know your buyer(s). I got an email recently from a company that did Beta testing. The email was short and to the point. Unfortunately, it was written by a very inexperienced prospector. The first sentence was an apology for emailing me “cold”. Why would you apologize for simply doing your job. That is trying to extract information from someone to further your prospecting and sales goals. The second error this greenhorn made was asking me if I could point him in the right direction as to who would make the decisions in my company regarding Beta testing. A few mouse clicks around the ole’ internets and he would have certainly seen everything he needs to know about me, and then some. The lesson here is whether one is prospecting or building a relationship, find out as much as one can ahead of time. It just makes one appear more professional.
Second, find out how your prosepective new customer likes to communicate. Do they like email, phone, maybe even a personal visit? Some still like to be taken to lunch. Trying to communicate with someone in the wrong mode, is like trying to speak to a deaf dog.
Third. The next action. I, like many, have been guilty of this many times. You have an engaged prospect on the phone or you have made that fantastic presentation and if you do not secure the business at that moment, the next question out of your mouth should be; “Where do we go from here?” or something to that effect. You should know exactly when your next meeting, phone call, email, demo, or whatever will be and you should get them to commit to it right then and there. Make them get their calendar out. Tell them you are coming back next week to get feedback, or you will schedule a video conference call with the other buyers. Something. Anything. No next action equals no sale!
Lastly, remember you are dealing with another human being. I do not care what the digital, Orwellian marketers of today say. Social Media cannot and does not sell. Humans sell and humans buy. You can get all the information about someones professional life on LinkedIn, which is great, but they are just like you. They have stress, families, hobbies, interests, ambitions, and everything else you have. Get to know them on a personal basis. If it is appropriate ask a few questions. Nothing fancy or invasive. Did you grow up around here? What is your favorite part of working for your company? Once you get someone to open up a bit, their defenses automatically lower. Tell them some personal things about yourself. Position yourself as another human, not just a telemarketer or street rep trying to make a commission. Be honest with him or her. You really would like an opportunity to earn their business. If it is not a good fit or they do not see the value in what you have to offer, then at least they know they have some options and you go on to the next one. It is the humanity in selling that can convert prospects to customers.
Good Luck and Good Selling.