Selling Skills: Guest or Pest?

I received this email in response to our monthly newsletter and it inspired me to write this blog that goes right to the heart of improving selling skills. I hope this information helps you with your prospecting activities!

“I have a question (or 2):
Do you have an outline on how often to touch a lead/prospect? I am developing a new territory down here in TX, and everything I am doing is rather cold to warm. I will get a meeting, have a conversation, hear an opportunity … write a thank you and reiterate what I heard … then as the lead goes back to daily business, I don’t hear back. I am struggling with how long is appropriate to touch them again without bugging them? How frequently?”

My response:

“Thank you so much for reaching out to me!

I’d like to backup up a little in order to answer your question.

When I’m in heavy prospecting mode, I start with the fundamentals:

1. Have a good system to track prospecting interactions.

• It is vital to have a system that reminds you to follow up with someone. My preferred method is my CRM. I could also use Excel. However, in CRM, the system tracks tasks, due dates, and information about the last conversation I had.

• Ideally I can attach emails to the contact in CRM – this way I can track that dialog as well.

• Next, I schedule a follow up call or email, usually 2 weeks to 30 days out, depending on the level of interest from the prospect or the potential for a business opportunity. I.e. Hot, warm, or cold. Hot gets a follow up within a week, warm usually within 2 weeks, and cold within 30 days.

• If the prospect is radio silent, I might give them a couple of nudges and if there is still no response, they go into “archive” status. People here will get emails as part of a campaign like newsletters or announcements (providing they have ‘opted in’ so they don’t get spammed, of course).

• So for cold leads, I will follow up 3 times or so. Warm leads more like 4 or 5 times.

2. Have a list of good general questions to ask prospects:

• The warmer the lead, the more pain-related and specific the questions are, since they have a stated need and therefore we are discussing a real opportunity.

• Refer to the 10 general questions I like to ask, especially if the lead is cold and we are looking to make a connection. If the lead is warm and there is an opportunity to do business, then I will use my Problem/Opportunity Matrix or Common Problems sheet to get additional specific information.

• As my Marketing Manager, Rebecca said to me, ‘the key is to make a series of connections that get stronger over time.’ This is very important to develop your selling skills and she recommends a list of 10 good questions to ask every new prospect:

1. Who are your clients?
2. What is a good referral?
3. What kind of networking do you do?
4. What professional groups interest you?
5. What information would help make your job easier/better?
6. What problems do your clients run into and how do you help alleviate these issues?
7. What does business success look like for you?
8. What can I do to help you?
9. What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
10. How can we work together to help one another?

3. What to do with the answers:

• When you get answers to this information, you can start to provide valuable information back to your prospect that allows them to perceive you as a resource, rather than as a salesperson.

• Go from resource to problem solver. Over time, you develop a relationship from cold to being indispensable!

• Once you have the answers to the questions above, you can start collecting information to periodically send to them, maintaining contact and providing value.

In summary, cold leads would receive 3 contacts to generate interest. Warm leads (I.e. A referral or someone who knows you, or someone you spoke with in person such as a networking event) can be 5 touches or more in the short-term.

I hope this helps!”

This was her reply:

“Ha … well, I’m glad I’m inspiring someone!

But seriously, THANK YOU. This is VERY helpful. As you probably know, we were all hired as non-sales people … so this is virgin territory for me. My biggest fear is being perceived as a pest or annoying. So the information that you shared, both on Friday and in this email, is so very helpful. I will continue to work on it until it becomes second nature to me.

Thanks Charles! I truly appreciate it.”

My response to her reply:

“One more point – you inspired me so much by your outreach that I have decided to write a blog on this topic to help others improve their own selling skills. Thanks!!”

I know there are different schools of thought about how many touches leads should receive, some suggest 12, others 7, and so forth. These are typically mine: cold leads would get 3 contacts to generate interest. Warm leads (I.e. A referral, or someone who knows you, or someone you spoke with in person such as a networking event) can be 5 touches or more in the short-term.

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By | 2017-06-20T17:43:14+00:00 June 16th, 2015|Sales Leaders, Sales Success|0 Comments

About the Author:

Charles Bernard is the CEO at Criteria for Success. He writes about sales, sales leadership, social selling best practices, time management, and anything related to helping others make sales success a habit.

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