Paula Molino and I were having coffee the other day and she was telling me how some of her best prospects were stalling and putting her off. Paula owns a successful business called Fashion Fix <http://www.fashionfix.com/>, which is a full service fashion consulting business offering wardrobe analysis, closet organization and personal shopping.
Paula was telling me about how her best prospects told her that they really needed her services. But when it came time to update their wardrobe or to go shopping for new clothes, the prospect would come up with some reason to delay the project and tell her to call them in a couple of months. Then, when Paula would call at the agreed time, her prospect would have another reason why they could not commit to an appointment and put her off until another time. "But they said they really need my help and they sounded sincere when we first spoke," Paula told me.
Sound familiar? Do you have prospects that you chase after and are constantly disappointed? You thought they really had a need and you could provide them with the right solution at the time. And because you are spending your time chasing these so-called prospects, you have not developed other prospects for your sales funnel. It is a vicious cycle with you ending up spinning your wheels and getting nowhere.
I asked Paula about how she qualifies her prospects during the initial conversation. Is a wardrobe makeover really something the prospects thinks they need or just a casual wish? Do they have the budget to purchase the new clothes and pay for Paula's services? And most important, what is their pain, what is the pressing reason behind why they would engage Paula's services.
Paula agreed that she may have been a little lack in qualifying her prospects and asking the tough questions. So we reviewed her prospect list and rated each one with a simple "A", "B" or "C" coding. Each prospect needed to be re-qualified, asking the tough questions as to their "pain" that needed to be relieved, their budget for the makeover and the realistic time frame that they expected to complete the project.
For some of the prospects, she would have to wait until their pain is acute - an important business meeting or interview coming up or a family affair that requires that special look. So how do you time your contact with the prospect at the same time when they are ready to buy? In my seminars on using the Sales Funnel Process <www.salespros4hire.com/sales_seminar> to organize your sales activities, I tell how you must be "top-of-mind" when the pain becomes acute. You never know when that will be, so you need to plan for frequent marketing interactions or "touches" with your prospects. Your marketing interactions can be as simple as sending a letter or postcard; sending your newsletter or e-zine containing information important to the prospect; or, a telephone call to re-qualify the prospect. You can also make sure you are where they are - attending a networking meeting or an industry association meeting or volunteering side-by-side at a charity or professional organization. Make sure you invite your prospects to attend your speaking engagements and seminars and also to the expos or tradeshows where you are exhibiting.
Paula agreed that she would better qualify the prospects that expressed interest in her services and be in more frequent contact with them so Fashion Fix would be "top-of-mind" when their pain became acute. In addition to her quarterly newsletter, Paula will be sending out a monthly wardrobe tip in conjunction with the change of seasons. And she would increase her speaking engagements especially for women's business groups which are a prime target for her business. And finally, Paula will be sending a hand-written note to her customers and "A" prospects telling them of fashion news or a speaking engagement that may be of interest to them.
I am confident that Paula will be able to close more business and stop chasing weak prospects by implementing a tougher qualifying process and making sure Fashion Fix is on her prospect's mind when they are ready for her services.