As mentioned in Part 1 of this series, I recently had the privilege of spending time with some high level Fortune 500 corporate prospects. Knowing they hold the key to my clients’ successes, I asked them what they like and don’t like about their interactions with potential suppliers during networking events. They gave me 7 tips to share with Business Owners and their salespeople. The first 3 tips can be found in Part 1 of this series.
Here are tips 4 through 7:
4. Establish relationships. There are some sellers who go to events, collect cards, zip out quick, non-customized follow up emails, dump corporate prospect names into their drip campaigns and think this behavior puts them on the path for sales. Corporate prospects say, “Not so.” They want to have relationships with you. That’s the only way they can really get to know you and establish a relationship of trust. Establishing and maintaining a solid relationship is the best path to a closed sale. I believe if you focus on the health and depth of your relationships with people, the money follows.
5. Follow up frequency. There is a balance between persistence and patience. Too little follow up and decision makers say they will forget about you. Too much follow up and prospects will become annoyed. How to know what to do? They said, “Ask.” Each decision maker will be different and the best way to know what they want is to ask. Here are some questions that will help.
- “What do you see as the next best step?”
- “Would a call or email be best to schedule time to continue our conversation?”
- “I understand there is not an opportunity at this time, when should I check back with you for future opportunities?”
- “How often should I check in with you?”
- “Should I check in with an assistant about scheduling time on your calendar or do you prefer I contact you directly?”
6. Don’t disappear from their radar. One pet peeve that several corporate prospects expressed is some Business Owners and Salespeople will “disappear” if they find out the company does not have an immediate need for their services. Decision makers find this very disrespectful. One even said that if a seller doesn’t continue to follow up she will delete all their information and not ever consider them, even if she later has a need. They want you to know that you are not the only one who has invested time to begin a relationship. If you want to be considered when a need arises, you need to stay in touch.
7. Make sure the right person is selling. I found this comment fascinating. Corporate prospects want Business Owners and Salespeople to know that not everyone is qualified to sell. They asked that you be realistic about who should be communicating with their companies. If getting in the door is not something you do well, find someone who can help you. If you are not a fantastic presenter, have someone accompany you on important meetings. If you are not the one who comfortably asks closing questions, well, you get the idea. They want you to have the best possible chance of being successful when selling to their organizations. They said companies which deserve to win business should not take the chance of losing because the wrong person is doing the selling.
Remember, Decision Makers are people who have hopes, dreams and goals. The more you customize your approach to help these corporate prospects achieve their goals, the more likely you are to establish long term relationships which lead to sales.