Be There When the Prospect Matures     

Some real time, long term, lead follow up thoughts”

I’m taking a short (one blog) break from the ongoing short episode series “Pragmatic Sales Psychology” to address what I believe is an immediate need. Suffice it to say that all of our lives change. New circumstances are a constant. If that is true for us, it is also definitely true for prospects in a lead generation system. Regardless of what you sell, an email service like Constant Contact or Mailchimp (don’t forget my commissions, ya’ll LOL) is a great way to stay in touch with said prospects until that time that their circumstances do change and they fire back up and re-enter the world of active shoppers. It is an opportunity for repositioning once more as the best source of information to the prospect about whatever you sell.

Here is the quicksand; knowing that email marketing is not too expensive and can be effective, TONS of merchants and service providers have fallen into the habit of abusing it and creating a barrier as a result of that abuse. Some corporations really slam you, some become a true annoyance – I guess not realizing that they are shooting themselves in the foot. They should monitor the unsubscribe rate and if it starts to climb, back off, but some folks don’t pay attention to the attrition and keep causing a higher volume of their own volition. NOTICE: too much of a good thing CAN be a bad thing. If you are always running a sale, that IS your regular price… translation: if you’re always screaming you lose your ability to be heard.   

Here is the solution: Use the tool with discernment. Since it is desirable to use email marketing when you have a legitimate sales event (not more than one per quarter I suggest, and two or three times annually is ideal), then you don’t want to create a barrier by, as the old fable goes, crying wolf with a new harvesting attempt every month. 

Here is a formula to consider – Regardless of service or the type of goods you sell, YOU are the expert. Even if you are new and only a week or two on the job, you have studied and know more about what you sell than the consumer. This is the most important card to play. Your job is to get permission to be the concierge on the way to a good decision for every possible prospect and, since “people buy from people they like”, getting them to like and trust you is job number one. Email marketing that abuses the recipients by only asking and never giving, is a blight on the marketing world. It just adds more bricks to the barrier that honest, well-intentioned sales professionals have to fight their way through.  

Allow me to be specific… gather the sales brain trust of your company and build a 12 series (to be deployed monthly) email campaign that educates the consumer and gives them things to look for when purchasing, so they choose the best possible goods and/or services for their needs. Choose aesthetically pleasing art, to be compatible with an approx 2-3 paragraph blog that helps them understand what they are buying better. 

Examples:                                                                                                                                                                        

If you sell patio furniture, blog about things to look for where comfort, durability, design, new collection/grouping ideas, warranties, the emotional health a relaxing outdoor space provides, and choosing the best products are concerned… to name a few topics. 

If you sell flooring, blog about the benefits of durability, a good waterproofing level, proper installation, long term availability of product in case an accident occurs, your habit of customizing estimates to specifically meet a family’s budget needs, the best type of flooring based upon lifestyle and motif, and other positives. 

If you sell pest control, blog about safety, the benefit of having a rapidly responsive company such as yours (testimonials to such an effect would be good here), the value of having a pest control service that is educated to specific strains of pests and how to eradicate them, the most common pest “enemies” in the region, the benefit of having educated eyes on your home* and exterior, the average longevity of your techs compared to the national average, etc.etc.   

If you sell pianos,  blog about the benefits of child development by having them involved in music; blog about mental health, emotional health, spiritual health, and specs they should consider when purchasing a new piano, the specs they should consider most when purchasing a used piano, the entertainment value of technologically advance pianos, etc. etc.

You see the pattern. Create a series that can be re-set annually to stay in front of prospects, with your caring wisdom that positions you as their best choice as a friendly concierge on the way to an important decision. If you refrain from “crying wolf” (“NO, THIS IS REALLY THE BEST TIME TO PURCHASE”, THEN AGAIN THE NEXT MONTH: “NO THIS REALLY IS, THEN THE NEXT MONTH “NO THIS REALLY IS”, BECAUSE OF XYZ… TERMS AND THE LIKE) you position yourself as the expert, and not just another company ALWAYS having a sale. This way when you do have a promotion, these prospects are more likely to trust that it is a real opportunity, and not just you asking them to buy again in a different way.  

Caution: Though this article is about misuse of it, if you don’t use email marketing at all to stay in front of old prospects, you are committing a worse disservice to yourself than if you abuse it because you are losing all the possible sales it can contribute to your revenue.   

Harvesting is fun. Successful harvesting is addictive BUT you must plant, seed, cultivate and water if you want your harvest to be as bountiful as it can be. Yes, there will be sales to be had in the “now” and consumers “ready to purchase right away”, but this article is about those who need to be nurtured with a well thought out email campaign, not one that asks them repeatedly to buy, without gaining their trust and confidence first. Why? Because a large segment of the buying population desires a caring expert who can be trusted to be straight with them. A series such as this will accomplish this to the highest possible degree instead of adding to the barrier and creating unnecessary un-subscribers. 

                                   “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”  – Albert Einstein

*My wife and I had a highly educated pest control specialist in Tucson. He used to go to Rotary meetings and talk about bug biology. He would invite prospects to mini-seminars that he held at different places in town, where he never mentioned the price of signing up for a service with his company. He talked about bugs…scientific stuff about pests, no sales pitch, no closing statement or invitation to sign up. About half the attendees did though. He was highly informed and had a great sense of humor. He’s probably still doing them and probably still the top performing sales person at his company.  

 

Jack Klinefelter
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