Are you wasting too much time on sales prospects who don’t buy? Here are steps you can take to better qualify prospects and streamline your sales process.
We have all worked with prospects and clients who end up not being a good fit for whatever reason. Among the regrets in such situations, is all of the time we wasted in those situations. While there is no sure-fire way to separate good prospects from the tire-kickers, there are steps you can take to improve your use of time when dealing with prospects or clients. Here are several ways to stop wasting time on the wrong prospects.
Schedule a Call
When a prospective client contacts you online, schedule a call. This tests whether the client is available enough to speak on the phone. If you can’t get the client on the phone, or it takes many days before he or she responds to your emails, it’s your first indication this client may end up wasting your time.
Ask Questions Pertaining to Their Business
As much as you want the client, it’s a good idea to find out if he or she is a fit for your services. Ask a series of questions that pertain to their business to see if they need the products or services you offer and if you are in a position to fill their needs. This way you know if you will be able to provide what the client wants. If you don’t think you can, cut ties during the call by saying, “I don’t think my services can help you, but you can contact this person.”
Ask Who the Decision Maker Is
Your initial contact with a potential customer might not be the person who actually makes the decision about what products to buy and what vendors to purchase them from. Find out who does make that decision early on and also how that decision is made. Do you have to convince the owner or a department head of the value you provide? Or will you have to get on a bidders’ list, spend time responding to RFPs, or meet some special qualifications.
Send an Email with Questions
If asking prospective clients questions during a call seems inappropriate, consider sending the questions in a follow-up email. This is perfect for professionals such as life coaches, who want to know if a client is going to do the work needed to improve their situation. If the client answers the questions in the email promptly, you’ll know you two are a good fit. If not, you can simply move on or let the person know it won’t work.
Clients should know what to expect from you and in what time frame and what is expected of them. Setting expectations upfront will make it easier for you and the client to decide if you’re the right fit, and will minimize misunderstandings and payment disputes. Some businesses have documents that outline all of the expectations to hand out as soon as they have a prospect, which can save a lot of time on both sides.
Ask What Their Budget Is
Prospective customers may not want to tell you how much they will ultimately be willing to spend, but whenever possible you need to get a sense of whether they can afford what you sell or what level of product or service they would be ready to buy.
Some businesses can search for reviews to find out if a particular client will be good for them, such as Business-to-Business’s (B2Bs). Reading reviews online on how they handle their customers and partners can help you decide if you should enter into business with them. Delayed payments, rude customer service, or other bad reviews may be a warning sign you will spend much more time than you should with the particular business.
You can save a lot of time if you provide estimates for the services as soon as possible. Many consumers shop only based on price. Quotes with minimal time invested are best. This may not be possible for some businesses, as an assessment must be completed before a quote can be given. However, finding ways to cut assessment time down can help get the quote out to the prospect sooner, which reduces wasted time.
While you don’t want to waste time with prospects who don’t buy, you don’t want to lose the sale to a competitor because you didn’t follow up. Sav time on followups by developing a plan that you routinely use to follow up with clients after initial contact. You can create form letters, auto responders, or even send post cards to remind them of your name.
Change Your Perspective on Wasted Time
Wasted time is not always a bad thing in business. Sometimes, what seems like wasted time turns into a contract down the road. But even when that doesn’t happen, you can benefit by analyzing the situation and how you could do things diffrently next time. In the meantime, implement some of the solutions mentioned here, so you can reduce wasted time right away. You may be surprised at how many people you end up cutting ties with right away because they just don’t fit with the way you run your business.