If you ever sat before a phone, nervously wondering if you should call or not, then you know how close prospecting is to dating.
Years ago, I was a relationship coach for single women over 40. For those who are in their twenties, dating is plentiful. Most people are still single. Because there are various social events to attend and also friends introducing you to new people, it’s easier to fill up your social calendar. This tapers off significantly as one ages since more and more people pair off, leaving those who are single wondering how to meet another unattached person.
Within the business world, just about everyone is “attached.”
Businesses who have been in business for a long time already have their relationships solidified with a vendor. So if you want their business, you have to seduce them somehow away from their long-time partner. And that takes some doing.
But in the beginning, the wooing phase for a prospect should be gentle and respectful. It’s all about the prospect, not you.
I recently had an experience where a person called me (the prospect) and then used a hammer to try to get his message across. It was no surprise when this tactic didn’t work. No one wants to be bludgeoned during a sales call.
What would have made a difference? Here are a few ideas:
Let the prospect know they’re special
In dating, the person asking for the date often goes all out to make the very best first impression. Let’s say it’s a guy and he really wants to do it right. He irons his shirt and pants. He gets a haircut. He cleans out his car. Everything is done to send one message to his date: You’re special to me and I’m making the effort to let you know that.
This is the way it’s done.
When you contact a prospect, you should let them know they aren’t just “any” possible date for you. You’ve targeted them. There are specific things about them that you like. And you let them know that. Focus on them because at this point, they don’t know you and to be honest, not sure they want to know you.
If you say you’ll call, call
Oh, the way women discuss the reasons why a man didn’t call!
“But he said he’d call! I don’t know why he hasn’t gotten back to me…” The popular TV series Sex and the City started the meme that spread like wildfire: he’s just not that into you. Of course Miranda’s words of wisdom fell upon deaf ears as the woman bemoaning her call-less existence refused to accept the truth.
If you write a letter or send an email to a prospect and say you’ll follow up with a call, do it. If you don’t, you immediately destroyed your credibility. The prospect may say to herself, “If this person doesn’t follow up with me when he said he would, what does that say about their client service?”
Play the long game
Usually, most long-term relationships are the result of months and even years of nurturing that relationship to the point of a more permanent commitment.
If you contact a prospect once and there is no response — and then you quit — what does that say about your intention of interest? Not much. Just like a potential candidate for a date, a person isn’t impressed when the other decides to stop making an effort after one attempt.
When you have a targeted list, continue to contact them in various ways to get their attention. Don’t stop after one, two, or even seven non-responses. You don’t want to be a pest, so you need to find ways to contact them without being annoying, but it can be done.
One of the best ways to do this is through e-newsletters. It provides a low-key way to keep your name in front of them while delivering valuable information. (And that’s important. No hard-core selling should be done within your newsletter. Just pure helpful goodness.)
Wooing takes time. It’s not an overnight occurrence. You cannot win the heart of your beloved prospect with just a few smooth phrases and a cheap pen thrown in for good measure.
You have to get to know them first before they want to know you.
Otherwise, they’ll just see you as one of many suitors who can talk a big game but can’t walk the walk. Why not surprise them with your business-savvy moves? Preparation, diligence, and persistence will likely win the heart of your prospect. Good luck!