Life in the world of building a new business is a passing parade. At anytime there are collections of potential customers or possible financiers:
- a small % of potential ready to do business with you now
- a bigger % who are interested in what you are offering but are not yet committed to any action
- an even bigger group who has potential, but is not yet interested.
Many of these have the potential to become interested if they were educated about how your product or service can help solve critical problems.
Most of us, quite rightly, try to focus our attention on finding the few people who are ready to buy into our dreams. In the process, we meet countless people who fall into the other categories. Instead of tracking these and nurturing our relationships with them, we often put these names into a database and then ignore them or worse still, discard them.
It’s important to remember that each person not yet aligned with our offering represents someone who is potentially interested in helping finance our business or in buying our products or services at some point in the future. This group can represent one of the most valuable and often the most under leveraged asset in your business. They can be your future gold mine!
Think of your market like a rose garden. Some rose trees bloom readily and easily with little care – they bloom early in the season, and usually will bloom often. When you know they offer repeated blooming, you cut those first and often. It’s natural to give them lots of attention and ignore the others.
What about the other bushes that require careful nurturing, pruning, watering, spraying and fertilizing? These trees will nearly all produce flowers at some point in the season, so with proper care, they can provide an ongoing source of roses for a long time. Some trees may not even bloom for a season, no matter what you do; however, they will flourish next year.
It is the same with finance prospects or for that matter prospective clients, but what most firms do, is pick the easy blooming flowers, and ignore the others. We pick the easy ones and then leave for greener pastures.
Very few businesses focus any attention on the prospects that aren’t ready to buy now.
Most entrepreneurs have a sense that some of the people they meet along the way, will buy sometime. They set up either a tickler file or a reminder in their contact manager. Every now and again they phone the prospect to find out if they are ready. This kind of call is not only ineffective most of the time; it is downright annoying, as it seldom adds any value. Who among us has time for the regular, “Are you ready yet call”? Few of us use the opportunity to nurture the prospect with useful information. Instead, they simply become commercial pests.
Savvy entrepreneurs know that eventually almost every prospect will bloom and decide to buy. They need education, encouragement, advice and guidance. If you do a good job of this you can pick every one instead of a few.
Use smart marketing to continue to nurture these customers, and to guard against them going to the competition.
- Offer them special educational reports on your specialty
- Provide regular updates on your progress
- Invite them to relevant seminars and workshops
- Give them free audio CDs of your presentations.
When these prospects bloom, they will let you know, because they will see you as the logical choice and that is when you can close the sale.
It is much cheaper and more effective to focus on qualified prospects, than to continuously forage for new leads
Michael Hepworth is a serial entrepreneur, with a history of successful start-ups and exits. His newest venture is Alternative Fuels Corporation. www.alternativefuelscorp.com