Sales prospects are a lot like water. If they stand still for too long, they begin to stagnate. And just like stagnant water is not good for cooking or drinking, stagnant prospects are not good for expanding your book of business. You need to keep your prospects continually moving forward until the end goal is reached.
How do you do that? A lot of sales professionals don't know. The good news is that preventing stagnation among your prospects is not complicated. Anyone can keep prospects moving forward if they understand human tendencies.
1. Establish the End Goal
Sales professionals have been taught in recent years not to be direct. They have been taught to not define the end goal up front because it seems too pushy. Truth be told, being upfront and direct is the best thing you can do for your prospects. They need the clarity of the end goal to understand where all your conversations are leading.
Establish the end goal from the very beginning. Then, make a point of establishing intermediate goals as you move along the process. Avoid ambiguity at all costs. It only serves to confuse and alienate.
2. Establish a Routine
In addition to being taught to be less direct, modern sales professionals have also been taught to abandon what the industry calls the 'sales process'. Perhaps you are sales process averse. That's fine. But you should at least establish a routine that gets you from point A to point Z.
There is a reason those old-school professionals developed their processes. They knew that those who approach the job with structure tend to perform better than those who do not. Whether you call it sales process, a routine or something entirely different, a consistent structure will help you keep your prospects moving forward.
3. Prepare Your Prospects
How many brokers hate cold calls? In our industry, we do it because we have to. But consider this: your prospects hate cold calls as much as you do. They also hate sitting down for a meeting without any knowledge of what is to be discussed. You can solve that problem by preparing your prospects ahead of time.
Send a meeting outline a few days before. Outline what you intend to talk about so that the prospect has time to prepare. You are more likely to have a productive discussion that way. As a side note, you can also use the outline to establish the goal for that particular meeting.
4. Invite Prospects to Participate
Each of your meetings will be more productive if you encourage your prospects to participate. In your outline email, provide a link to an article you want them to read. Provide a worksheet they can complete, a worksheet that will give you a better idea of what their needs are. The point of inviting prospects to participate before you meet is to get them thinking about their benefits packages in the days leading up to the discussion.
5. Follow up with Each One
The final step in preventing prospect stagnation is following up with each one. After every meeting, wait a day or two before sending an email or making a phone call. Use the follow-up email or phone call to answer questions, offer further explanation, or propose new goals.
Always remember that your prospects are busy running businesses and serving customers. They will not necessarily keep moving forward on their own. You have to help them. If you don't, the likelihood of stagnation is high. And just like you do not want stagnant water, you do not