A challenge for many businesses is how to best pursue your most desirable prospects and/or former customers without being a pest!
First, let’s define a “good prospect.” For many companies, this would be a past customer or client. You don’t have to go from “cold to sold” because they already know your work and hopefully trust you. You already know each other’s talents, needs, cultures and communications styles.
Remember that you don’t really need an excuse to connect or reconnect. You just need: (1) qualified prospects whose needs match yours and/or (2) former clients who were happy with your product or work when you worked together in the past.
Here are some tips:
1. Offer to solve a specific problem or challenge you know they have. Position yourself not in terms of your individual skills or product specifications, but rather, in terms of your unique ability to solve a problem they are facing. In other words, sell the benefits of your work, not your skills. Sell the disappearance of a problem you know they have and your ability to deliver defined, measurable outcomes with your product or service. Sell value, as defined in your prospect’s terms.
2. Offer a new product or service. This can be something they didn’t know you have or didn’t need from you previously. It’s amazing how often we have the mistaken notion that our prospects know everything about us!
3. Tie your outreach to a specific event in the life of your prospect. Do your homework and dig deep into new challenges or opportunities that may have arisen for your prospect or former customer since you last talked with them. Then come to them with a brand new idea or solution that they haven’t thought of or tried yet.
4. Look for gaps in their businesses that you can fill. Review their website, scan their social media platforms, and research their competitors. Then put together an approach or proposal that neatly fills a gap in their overall portfolio or performance that your company is particularly well-suited to fill.
5. Connect your clients or customers with each other and/or with important connections you have that they may be able to benefit from. We all tend to underestimate the powerful reach of the people we know.
6. Send your past customers or prospects unsolicited information which educates them regarding trends in their industry that they may not be aware of. Go even a step further and tell them how they can utilize these trends or that new information to build their businesses. Be as specific as possible.
7. Be their friend. Don’t always be overtly soliciting their business. Get to know them better in terms of what really makes them tick and what matters to them beyond the obvious.
8. Finally, ask lots and lots of questions. Give them open-ended opportunities to tell you how business is going, what their most pressing needs are, what their long-term goals are, and what a “big win” would look like for their companies. Then use their answers to those questions to guide you in your future interactions with them.
Remember: it’s not just about you selling and your prospects buying. It’s about connecting with them in a way that makes you a unique, invaluable resource that they can’t do without!