Guest post by Mike Cannon:
Prospects aren’t always ready to buy right now. But that doesn’t make them a bad prospect, or a cold fish, or a dead duck. What would kill the deal, though, is if they aren’t nurtured until they are ready to buy.
What do you mean, “nurtured?”
That’s what my mom did when she made her famous fried chicken once a week, when she soothed me from the hard knocks of unrequited puppy love, and when she encouraged me to play team sports. My dad nurtured me with tougher love when he required me to deal with the wreckage of my new Mustang, when he was silent about my (first) wife choice, and when he trained me to win life master in bridge.
How do you nurture a prospect you don’t even know – yet?
Dictionary.com defines nurturing as:
- Feed and protect
- Support and encourage
- To bring up, train, educate
Yup, sounds like my mom and dad. But those points also make it easier to articulate how you can nurture an unfamiliar prospect.
- Feed them with valuable information not only about what you do, but how it would apply to them. Better yet, how it would make their life easier or their business more successful. Protect them from false information or slippery slopes they could slide down in your area of expertise.
- Support them by offering advice, counsel and tips that will give them a preview of what a relationship with you could bring, but that doesn’t give away the company store.
- Ask for their business. I didn’t have to ask to be a son, but you will have to ask your prospects every once in a while if it’s time to have a conversation about doing business.
Email marketing is an important component in nurturing prospects. It’s simple, inexpensive, and measurable.
- Keep your emails short and text-only, with links to your website. An overwhelming number of emails are read on hand-held devices, and you want the recipient to be able to read all of your message (2-4 sentences) without scrolling through graphics that don’t show up. Once they’ve clicked on the link, they’re more likely to troll through the rest of your website as well, and, if you have tracking codes in place, you’ll know what else they’re interested in.
- Even though the post office will no longer deliver on Saturday, stamps are going to cost more than ever, not to mention the cost of paper and ink. There are costs associated with a good email service that will track electronic behaviors, but they don’t begin to equate to printing and postage costs.
- A good email service will let you know if the email is opened; you’ll never know if your postcard landed in the right mailbox. Electronic behaviors can be monitored and tracked, defining for you the prospect most likely to be interested in talking with you.
A quiet prospect doesn’t necessarily mean an uninterested prospect. They’re not sure they need you – yet; they’ve been assigned to other tasks for the next quarter; or they’re in a bad mood today. Who knows? But if you gently nurture your cold prospects with good, helpful information, they’re likely to eventually turn into hot prospects.