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How to Win With Prospects

Adapted from:  “The ABC’s of Customer Retention”
Written by:  Terri Schepps

Are you looking for ways to get more leads, sell more leads and keep more customers?  It takes more than “dangling the carrot” to close a sale.  It takes wrapping retention strategies during the sale, knowing who your best customers are, and building your “A” Customer List.

Wrap Retention strategies during the sale:  Retention starts with the sale.  When sales are made with the intention of retaining the customers, the right customers, you will sell differently.   Differently means more effectively and efficiently, giving you the biggest bang for your buck!   Quotas come with the territory, but if you are targeting the right prospects, then selling doesn’t have to be such a hurdle. 

Know who your best customers are:  Do you know your ideal customer?  You may have seen this question in other self help business books and materials, but it is important.  You can’t just say your ideal customers are all consumers, or all small businesses or all executives.  This doesn’t mean they wouldn’t all benefit, it just means you need to be more specific.   This is challenging because businesses have the desire to reach as many customers as possible.  You need to know your best customers.  You must be specific. 

Build an “A” Customer List.  “A” list customers are those that fit the purpose of your business.  If you have a business focused on consumers you will want to identify the “best fit” demographic.  The ideal customer for you may be married couples with income levels in a certain range or single men less than 25 years.  If you are focused on keeping customers, you need to make sure you are selling to the right customers.  Who is your target customer? 

As you invest the time in building the relationship, your opportunity to sell to and retain the prospect continues to rise.

Here are other ways you can nurture prospects:

Are you focused on sales or the customer?  Customer retention and customer referrals are the real guide to business success.   When the focus is directly on the customer, the customer feels important and is more likely to repeat business and recommend your business to others.   This begins during the sales process.  No one likes the pushiness that comes from pressured sales.  This doesn’t mean you can’t create a sense of urgency, so long as the prospect or customer believes the focus is really on their well being, not yours.  Utilizing information gained from current customers, lost customers and those who have never purchased makes a significant difference in how you approach your business.  For most businesses, it’s the defining difference between success and failure.  

Do you know your competition?   When you identify a prospect is not a match for your service or product, be prepared to send them on to someone else.  Have strategic partners you can exchange business.  For example:   If you are a financial planner for executives, find out where you can send prospects that don’t need the level of service you are use to giving.  An unmatched prospect won’t appreciate nor pay for that level of service.   In addition it takes you away from those who do expect it and will pay for it.   Even worse, unmatched prospects you try to win over, can create negative marketing and potentially to those you want to reach. 

You can recommend alternatives, but never be condescending or insulting.  If you are approaching the sale as though you know more than the prospect and they really don’t know what’s best for their business-this can turn off a potential customer.  You may know more, but your job is to listen and establish yourself as someone they can trust and respect.   It can be insulting when someone, who has not taken the time to understand specific needs, insinuates a prospect doesn’t know what’s best for their business or personal needs.  Today’s marketing includes listening first and then educating those you are targeting.  What information can you share that will help them make the best decision? What other choices do they have besides what you offer?  What are the pros and cons of those choices?  If you reach above the sale, thinking more about the prospects’ well being than yours, then you create a potential advocate. Even if they don’t make the purchase from you they will certainly tell others about you.  

Be clear about the sales or start up process.
   Prospects want to know what you do and how much you charge.  Evade this answer as long as possible.  Turn it around and learn more about their needs.  Here’s what you say: “I would like to first learn more about you and explore if your needs match what I can offer.”  I assure my prospects up front I’m not going to try to “fit the round peg into the square hole.”   It earns respect from the beginning.  Learn their pain, their budget, what they have in mind and how they will measure success.  As they are sharing their needs take notes and be thinking of what you have to offer to help them or other resources or business contacts they should consider.   You need to be asking yourself if they are an “A” customer.   They could be interested in the service you offer, but make sure there is a good fit.

Once you’ve established the prospects’ needs and what you offer are a match, follow your sales cycle.  This can vary, but take it step by step.   Part of some sales cycles is to develop and present a proposal.   If you will present a proposal, include questions the prospect has or may have about your business that can be answered. Following each step in a well defined sales process lends itself to a better match with an “A” customer.  

If you market your service or product on line, you can create written dialog which will take a prospect through a “sales” conversation.  Post questions they can answer for themselves to sell them on your business.  You may

You will even want to share reasons why they shouldn’t purchase from you.  A recent release of a highly marketed diet supplement simply states if the customer is unwilling to change their diet and exercise, then the supplement is not recommended for them.  Other self help products, such as those to prevent nicotine habits, share they are only for consumers who want to stop their habit.  These are smart ways to engage customers through marketing and insuring only the target market is making purchases.  It also lessons the complaints if they don’t work, because many times it is because they didn’t commit themselves as originally recommended.

About Terri:

Ms. Terri Schepps has been reaching out to customers for over 20 years.  Her experience as a business owner, entrepreneur and executive has allowed her to relate to the many challenges her peers face.   Terri provides a much needed high-end contact, generating results for her clients.

Terri has written a book “The ABC’s of Customer Retention” and has published several retention focused articles.  She is active in educating the business community in the value of direct customer contact.  Her role as a retention expert drove her into business and she is committed to provide a unique service to many organizations, large & small.   Her passion is learning, writing and speaking.  She readily shares her knowledge to help other leaders understand the impact of one to one contact with customers and prospects.

In addition to her professional memberships, Terri is active civically in the Dallas, Texas community.  She is married and has four children. 

Terri can be contacted at tschepps@retentiontocks.com.

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