Connecting the Dots to More Sales

Article by C.J. HaydenOne of the biggest challenges in marketing is getting people to respond to unsolicited calls and emails. When prospects enter your marketing pipeline as the result of your cold call, their casual visit to your website, or your finding their name on a list, you are essentially a stranger. Unless they have a compelling need for the service you are offering at the exact moment you contact them, they have no real incentive to take your call or answer your email.

You can’t make a prospect need you. But what you can do is identify and strengthen the personal connections you have with your prospects to increase the likelihood that they will be open to speaking with you.

When you have a particular prospect you can’t seem to get through to, one useful tactic is to ask for an introduction from someone you already know. Ask your colleagues, others in your market niche, or members of the business and personal networks you belong to if they know this person. If so, would they be
willing to serve as your connection? You might request that your connection call or email your prospect suggesting he speak with you, or simply ask if you can use your connection’s name as someone who referred you.

A more helpful approach overall, though, is to focus on filling your marketing pipeline with prospects you are already connected to in the first place. The people you are personally acquainted with in your market niche will probably already be on your prospect list. But your personal connections go far beyond those people you have actually met. Here are some suggestions for people you have a connection with that may not have occurred to you:

  • Members of any association, club, affinity group, online community, or social network you belong to
  • Other employees of any company you have worked for (as an employee or consultant)
  • Vendors or salespeople who serve your current clients
  • Alumni and faculty of any university or training school you went to
  • Speakers at any meeting or conference you attended
  • Parents of other children at the schools your children attend
  • Current and former co-workers of your family members and close friends
  • Your neighbors and neighborhood merchants
  • Your local political representatives

When you look at how many names could be added to your prospect list from these sources, your circle of connections is probably much more extensive than you thought. Consider approaching prospects who fall into any of these categories instead of those with whom you can’t find a connection. When writing a letter or placing a call, name the specific connection you have with each prospect in your opening. You may be surprised to see how many
more people will start taking your calls.

Once you can get your prospects to talk to you, presenting your services and asking for their business can be fairly easy. But this doesn’t always result in a closed sale. Sometimes the main reason is that your prospects don’t know you well enough yet. Consider spending more time up front building stronger
relationships with your prospects before asking for the sale.

Attend networking meetings, conferences, or social events that your prospects frequent, or invite them to events you plan to attend. Schedule coffee, lunch, or a date to play tennis or golf to get better acquainted. Send your prospects articles and other information that will help them do their jobs better or achieve their personal goals. Interact with them in online social networks you both belong to. Or follow some of the suggestions above to identify personal connections that may already exist between you.

A primary reason that people hire a professional services provider like you is to serve as an expert resource. Look for ways to serve your prospects before selling to them. Give them tastes of your expertise and the resources at your disposal in all your marketing materials, on your website, at speaking engagements, in your newsletter, and any other way they come in contact with you. Often this will result in prospects becoming clients without either of you having to work at it.

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