In a perfect world we would always know – and have agreed – the next step with a prospective client. However, hands up, I don’t live in that perfect world and I suspect many of you don’t either!
For various reasons sales conversations can stall. It may be that we took our foot off the pedal or the prospect stopped responding. That is all part of sales. Learning to restart those conversations is one of the skills we all need to develop.
New Year is naturally a great time to do that. So, what’s the best way to re-engage prospects or clients?
There isn’t only one answer but an effective place to start is to categorise your prospects into 3 broad groups based on where they are in their buying journey.
- Growing awareness of a need.
In the 5 steps of this stage people move from not being aware that they have a problem or need to recognising it, defining it clearly and researching options to solve or meet it. This can happen in a matter of minutes or hours but could also take months! During that time the need could change, it could become even more critical or it could even disappear.
- Evaluating risk
Having done their research in the previous stage our potential buyers are now considering the solutions – of which you will be one. They will weigh up how good a fit each solution is and counter it with the potential risks. In this context the risks include unproven solutions, unproven providers, a high investment, lack of a guarantee, an incomplete match of functionality or a newer version of the solution on the horizon but not yet released.
(The best fit solution with the lowest level of risk will win!)
- Making the buying decision, paying and moving ahead with the solution.
At this point your prospects may be sold on your solution but still have to convince other stakeholders, agree payment terms or marry up logistical and timing considerations.
You can now imagine how your approach to a prospect who is in the early stages of recognising their need would be different to your approach to a prospect who is weighing up options and risk and different again to a prospect who is ironing out a few final points of detail with other stakeholders in their business.
For example, if your initial conversation had ended in them saying ‘I need to think about it’, that’s an indication they were starting their research. (You would also have wished you had asked a few more questions at that stage!) What happened next? Did they do anything, did they just park the idea? Does the problem still exist? In reconnecting you will want to find out the answers to those questions – and carefully understand what they need next.
It’s not too late to reconnect with prospects who have fallen out of your sales pipeline. Look back at the last comms you had. What clues does that give you? What steps had they talked about? What information had you provided? What feedback had you received? Look at where they each were in the buying journey.
I’ll be sharing ideas on how to reconnect and rekindle those conversations throughout January.