Written by Bob Croston
We all love repeat business, referrals, and inbound warm leads. The problem is you can’t scale warm leads. When these run out, so does your ability to grow your revenue, unless, of course, you prospect and drive new leads in the pipeline yourself.
If you’re looking for better success from cold meetings, consider these seven keys to turning cold prospects into new clients:
- Target carefully: Make sure you’re spending time with the right companies, titles, geographies and so on. If the person sitting across from you is the right profile, you have a chance. If they aren’t the right profile, all the skills in the world on your end won’t land you a new customer.
- Do your research: A little bit of knowledge is a good thing. A lot of knowledge is powerful. To give yourself the best chance for a successful meeting, find out as much as you can about the prospect and his industry, his company, his needs, and his focus. Buyers want to know that you’ve taken the time to learn about what’s going in their world. Read: Leading Sales Conversations When the Seller Drives the Demand
- Adjust your expectations: You won’t go from first meeting to new client overnight. Know that before you set foot in the door, your objective is to start the process of building trust and credibility, not to make the sale in the first meeting. You must walk the prospect through the sales process building rapport, uncovering needs, articulating value, and gaining commitment. This takes time.
- Provide value: What can you offer of value to the prospect, not just once you start working with her, but right there in the first meeting? Provide insight and offer value during the sales process to show him what it will be like to do business with you. Essentially, you want to be able to answer the question (before you leave your office and show up at the prospect’s office), “Why is meeting with me going to be worthwhile?”
- Establish a connection and a need: Remember, you’re going in cold and have very little knowledge of the prospect’s needs and situation. You must ask probing questions to help him articulate his needs (including needs they might not know even exist). But if you have not established rapport and a connection with the prospect, it is unlikely he will be willing to open up to you. You must establish a connection and build rapport while uncovering needs in the first meeting.
- Always agree on a next step: Before you leave that first meeting, always establish a next step. Clearly articulate what you believe should happen next-perhaps it’s another meeting, additional information, a discussion letter outlining what was discussed, or a presentation. Then get agreement from the prospect that it is a good next step and set a time when the next step will take place.
- Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the sales process takes time. Assuming the prospect is a good target for you (see point #1), plan how you will stay top of mind with him after the meeting. Send articles related to his industry or situation, send direct mail pieces, stay in touch, and keep moving him along the buying process. Many sellers don’t stay in touch and they let long-term leads fall through the cracks. Don’t let this be you.
In the end, cold prospects are just as their name suggests: cold. Unlike the referral or lead that may come in ready to buy, the proactive outreach meeting usually starts at square one. It is your responsibility to heat it up through proper targeting, planning, and process management.
Do this and you too can turn more cold prospects into new clients.
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