making it hard to talk to prospects-- how to avoid sales conversations

When prospects visit your site and ask you to engage with them, do you make it hard? Do you act like you hate talking to prospects? (If you haven’t seen it, yet, you may want to check the last post on whether you are unintentionally fortifying your website against your prospects.)

“No, no– I love talking to potential customers. I wish I had more of them. They are always bailing on meetings and making it hard to contact them, though.”

Yet your prospects are frustrated, too. Here’s how my life as a prospect feels. I get 10 calls a day from pushy sales rep who have nothing useful to offer me and just waste my time. But crickets from the companies whose sites I’ve visited and filled out a form asking them to contact me. Or I get a call a week later, when I’ve already dealt with that particular problem. (Sometimes I even forget the site I visited.)

What both sides want is a quick, painless way to figure out if there should be a deeper conversation.

When is the best time to be talking to prospects?

Not when you’re leaving the third “this is so-and-so from such-and-such just checking in to see if you still had any interest in our thingamajigger.”

Typically, it’s right when someone requests information from your site. That’s when they are thinking about you, and likely to be available. After all, they just asked for information from you. Research from the Harvard Business Review shows that if you call web leads back within an hour, you are 7x more likely to qualify them than if you wait 2 hours. And you’re 60 times more likely to qualify them within the hour than if you wait 24 hours.

Let me repeat that, just in case the number don’t provide enough emphasis.

You’ll need 60X more leads if you wait a day to call them.

(Naturally, your results will depend on your customer demographics, but the results are striking. Even for long sales cycles, the chance to influence how the decision unfolds and what criteria get attention is important.)

So call right away, if you can. (I have my phone give a special buzz so even if I’m not at my desk, I have a shot at responding quickly.)

What if you can’t reach your prospect right away?

Sometimes you can’t respond right away. You may be on the phone with another prospect or customer, in the air, or, God forbid, not working. In these cases, it’s best if you have someone else who can follow up for you. If not, follow up as soon as you can. Then, follow up again. A lot of people will request information from a site, then move on to something else (they don’t have unlimited time, either), filing away your whitepaper or other lead magnet for later review.

If you can tell if/when your prospect has interacted with your content, you have a chance for another “shot on goal”. I had one prospect grab content from my site. The profile looked like a great fit, so I followed up with several voicemails. (Not as much as I should have, but pretty good for me.) Nothing. A couple of months later, I got a notification that the prospect was looking at my content again. I called, had a great conversation, and got a great customer relationship.

Sometimes, it’s not a happy ending. Once I was traveling and got so behind on my email that I didn’t even notice a notification about a good prospect until it was too late. When I finally got him on the phone, we had a great conversation, and he said, “I sure wish you’d called last week. I can tell you would have done a better job than the people I went with.” You can’t win ’em all. 😉

Of course, if you’d like to have a good way to attract more web leads and follow up with them effectively, click the button below to learn how you can set up your own system. If your business requires talking to prospects, it’s nice to make it easy, instead of making your prospects find an eye of newt and stay by their phone for a week.

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