Every sales person has been there. A lead comes in, and they seem really excited about your offering. You go through your needs analysis, send them a proposal, and like a dissipating fog they stop communicating. You call the prospect, and they say, “well we’re early in the decision making process, we’ll call you when we’re closer.” Your heart sinks, you’ve wasted hours talking to this person and drafting a proposal that you’re hoping won’t get lost in the shuffle by next quarter when they decide to revisit it.
You’d like to follow up weekly, but you know it will only get you cut off from the conversation. You also don’t want to forget about them as you work other sales leads. So what’s a sales rep to do? What can you do with leads that aren’t sales ready, but are qualified? Here’s 3 things you can do to stay top of mind, but not become a pester.
Drip, Drip, Drip.
In case you haven’t been paying attention, we really like marketing automation. The ability to create content and disperse it based on interests and behaviors is pretty neat. And if you have a lead that’s going cold, or wasn’t buying ready when you met them. Workflows, or drip email campaigns, are a great way to stay inside the radar of your opportunity.
If you’re using a marketing software, often that’s built into the functionality, but you can do this yourself if you don’t have access. The idea behind drip campaigns in many cases isn’t to offer discounts or specials, it’s to educate your lead and show that you’re an industry thought leader.
We know our buying cycle based on sales data, so we have a drip campaign that’s intended to nurture a sale through the different offerings we have, and stay in front of them as they go through the sales process. In doing so we get to have them come back to educate them on a number of subjects that are important to what they’ve shown interest in.
Give Something Away
Who doesn’t like free stuff? Offering a sales qualified but not buying ready something for free can change their perspective of you. For example, we offer a free SEO audit as a part of our sales process. We can analyze where your website problems are before we build another one.
It’s a simple and efficient way to give the sales opportunity something that other companies bidding may not give. It also opens up a door for a cross-sell. They may have come for a website, but then want SEM services after seeing that it was an offering. It’s a great double benefit.
I know from history that giving away free trinkets however is not the most effective way to with with a sales lead. In a former job we would on occasion give a way a fairly high priced item for getting a sales meeting. For example, something like an iPad. The prospect was happy to take that meeting, they were getting a free item. But half of those leads died off after the trinket was handed over.
Instead, offering something that brings value to you as well as them, something that’s related to your business will get you a much better return on that investment.
Create a Tripwire
When you walk into an Ikea, or get an email from Old Navy, they often lead with an amazingly priced offer, that’s the tripwire. They know that you’re not going to walk into a store and only buy a few $4 shirts. No, not when the whole store is 60% off. You can buy a few $4 shirts and then that dress you wanted is now over half off. What could have been a $20 trip turns into spending $150, because you saved $175.
Sending a prospect a tripwire offer is a way to get them to interact with you and take you up on a small offer. This allows them to build trust, and you get a positive interaction with what is now not just a prospect, they’re a customer.
We regularly will create an inexpensive homepage design, or layout for a customer. The cost is minimal and it establishes trust between the parties. Most design companies won’t do it because the cost of generating that is too high. But, there’s a value to it, both for us and our prospects.
Sealing the Deal
Sales can be hard, there’s no way around that. There’s competition all around you trying to woo customers. It’s even harder when opportunities come in and they’re not really ready to buy. You can feel like you’re wasting your time. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are things you can do as a sales person, a marketer, and a business owner to help shorten sales cycles and generate more sales, even when the prospect isn’t ready to buy.