I first met with the founder of this particular MR services firm in early 2013. After his initial interest and a few phone calls, he said he was not ready to move forward.
A year later we reconnected… similar interest, a few more phone calls… same outcome.
And again, two years after that.
But now, it looks like it’s finally coming around and will actually happen. The interest, the need and the urgency are all higher than ever before. So, what happened? How did a sales prospect from 2013 finally come to pull the trigger (we think) more than seven years later?
First, my philosophy… DON’T GIVE UP! “No” doesn’t always mean “no.” More often, it means “not right now” – for any number of reasons, legitimate or not. And because of that, I always believe that, when the time is right, I will have the opportunity to earn the business of a perspective buyer.
Note: this is where most people with sales responsibility fail. They give up too easily. They think “no” means “no forever.” And nothing could be further from the truth… companies change, people change, needs change, budgets change, and so on. To assume that a single “no” is the end of the opportunity is simply short-sighted.
Secondly, lead nurturing. The one thing that must happen to make my philosophy (above) work, is that I have to stay in touch consistently and frequently. For example, with this 7-year prospect:
- He’s on my monthly e-newsletter list… and I haven’t missed a month in those 7+ years.
- He’s a ‘first connection’ on LinkedIn… so he’s reminded of me and what we do with my frequent posts and weekly articles.
- He’s been invited to – and attended – some of our webinars.
- We’re active in the marketplace – speaking at events, getting published in industry newsletters and blogs, participating in LinkedIn group threads – so he can’t help but run into us.
- When I have been in his city on business, I’ve reached out and invited him to coffee… which he has excepted.
- I’ve run into him at a couple of conferences, where we’d spend a few minutes catching up.
You’ll notice that none of those lead nurturing touchpoints say “sales calls.” And that’s on purpose. The goals of these frequent and consistent touches are to:
- Maintain top-of-mind awareness.
- Reinforce our subject matter expertise.
- Help him to get to know me / like me / trust me more and more over time.
- Help me to understand his current challenges and interests, based on our coffee conversations and which webinars he attends.
One last point… for this most recent connection, HE reached out to ME! It’s another proof-point that lead nurturing is about staying top-of-mind so that when the sales prospect is finally ready to make a buying decision, it’s you that they think of.
Even if it takes seven years!