In today’s market, a phone call now and again is not enough to maintain interest.
A full B2B sales process often takes 3-6 months, or longer. Different departments and managers must give their approval or the organization is simply too busy with other matters.
How do you keep your potential customer engaged until they are ready to make a decision?
You’ve had an interesting phone conversation with an account that shows great potential. However, they are not ready to make a decision and they ask if you can contact him again in six months.
In good spirits and ready to start the sales process again, you contact them by phone after six months as agreed. But what happens? They have completely forgotten about the conversation with you.
What’s more, their organization is already talking to a competitor and has already received a proposal from them. The chance of bringing in the customer has shrunk considerably. A great pity, since six months ago your company was in pole position.
This situation occurs all too often and can cost companies hundreds of thousands in lost sales.
So where did it go wrong?
The account manager didn’t fully consider the prospect’s schedule. They have a full agenda and will speak with many people in six months. The chances of him remembering the conversation with you for six months are slim.
Incidentally, in this example, we are assuming that the account manager calls back exactly on the agreed date. In practice, account managers often call back later than the agreed date due to other priorities, which further reduces sales opportunities.
How can you make sure your prospect stays engaged?
The sales process is certainly not on hold in the period between the initial call and the agreed call-back date.
After the contact person initially shows interest, it is important that you follow up, and do so by scheduling multiple touchpoints. That way, they’ll think of your company first when the time comes to proceed with the buying process.
If you are not engaged with your prospect how can you expect your prospect to be engaged with you?
There are some simple ways to stay on your prospects’ radar without wasting internal resources and time.
1. Harness the power of LinkedIn
Networking is an important aspect of any sales process. LinkedIn makes this easier than ever. 830 Million users would agree. By expanding your network on social media and staying personally involved, you create a bond of trust, as well as maintain regular contact.
Once the initial conversation is complete, add the contact as a connection on LinkedIn. Be active by responding to his or her updates regularly sharing interesting information through your own profile that may be relevant to potential customers.
It is good practice to make sure your profile is current with information about your company.
2. Contact them by phone regularly
It doesn’t do any harm to take stock by phone every now and then to keep the prospect warm, and to check if there are any changes in his or her situation. A common pitfall is that too much telephone contact can be perceived as intrusive. Finding a balance is therefore essential.
Another disadvantage is that telephone contact is labor intensive, especially if several prospects are involved who are difficult to reach.
LinkedIn and email insights let you know the perfect time to make that next call.
3. Send personal emails with relevant information
By sending regular emails with interesting information, you can maintain contact in an easily accessible way and even increase brand awareness and trust with your contact person:
Automate your emails
Besides the fact that it saves a considerable amount of time to use automation, you can find out a lot with the right software. You can see exactly when, how often and by how many contacts the email is opened. This provides valuable insight; timing when you can contact them again by phone.
Make it personal
By “automate” we don’t mean an email newsletter, but an email that looks and feels like a personally written message. Make sure your automated emails always contain a personal salutation. Telephone contact is also perceived as easier and more pleasant after a personal email.
Share interesting information
By sharing information that is a shared professional interest, you increase brand awareness and build trust. Relevant content could include a blog, article, white paper or even video highlighting how your company can solve the prospect’s problem. Case studies are also an effective way to show how your company has helped similar customers.
To send emails in this way, you need a program that is preferably linked to your CRM system and content targeted at accounts that are in the relevant pipeline stage.
So keeping the momentum going with your leads is key to making sure your business is never forgotten.
A blinding presentation at your first meeting can create real excitement, but the timing and complexity of the buying process always require some, if not many follow-ups. It would make sense then that this is done well.
Making the decision to walk away from a potential customer is far better than a nasty surprise down the line from not staying in touch with your b2b sales follow-up activities. The only way to know you’ve done all you can, and you are sure this prospect is not worth any more effort, is to allocate the necessary time and resources.
To do this it is vital that you leverage content and technology where you can to ease your administration and ensure that your prospect is engaged until it is time to pull the trigger on the sale.
And most importantly that the sale is made with you.