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Prospects. If only we had more of them then that would answer all our problems. We’d smash our revenue goals, win salesperson of the century, and retire to a beach to sip mojitos all day every day.

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

With billions of people on the planet, finding prospects is the easy bit. The real challenge is getting those people all the way from fresh-faced prospects to enthusiastic customers

Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to boost your results. At Reply, we’ve seen several techniques that dramatically increase the chances of converting prospects, and we want to share them with you.

Talk to the right people

You know what really annoys me? When people talk about a good salesperson as being able to sell sand in the desert. Okay, I get what they’re trying to say, but the truth is a good salesperson would never be trying to sell sand in the desert in the first place.

One of the keys to making sales is talking to the people who would benefit the most from what you’re selling. Then the product will practically sell itself, doing a lot of the work for you.

If you don’t know already, find out whose problem your product or service is trying to solve. If you do know already, focus all your efforts on finding those prospects, rather than wasting anyone else’s time.

Send effective prospecting emails

Nurturing from prospect to happy customer starts with the very first contact. For most businesses today, that means a cold email.

When it comes to email prospecting, the standard rules apply:

  • Pick the right prospects (see above).
  • Segment your list for more targeted emails.
  • Personalize your emails to their specific needs.
  • Above all, don’t be spammy.

You don’t want to sound like you’re selling timeshare; you want to come across as someone who’s genuinely interested in helping your prospects solve their problems.

Remember, it’ll usually take more than one email. Having a series of sales follow up emails is essential if you want to get a response.

Give people a reason to act now

In his book ‘Influence’ (essential reading for anyone in sales), Cialdini explained how scarcity is one of the key influencers of human behavior.

A reason this works so well is that us humans have a near superhuman ability to put things off. We’ll start the diet next week, we’ll make the call tomorrow, we’ll do our accounts next month.

Your prospects feel the same way. Unless there’s a sense of urgency, they’ll save your email for later, only to delete it along with the thousands of others when they have their quarterly attempt at inbox zero.

Your message needs to make it clear they have to take action, and they have to do it now. A typical example would be using a time-limited offer (for example, save 20% if you sign-up within 24hr).

A word of caution: Customers are smart, and if you’re using fake scarcity you’ll only succeed in annoying (and losing) your prospects.

Invest in sales automation software

A bad workman may always blame his tools, but the right sales prospecting tool can make a big difference. From making sure you appear professional to sales email tracking, the right software is one of the best investments you can make in your business.

Check out a list of our favorite sales automation software, including options for lead generation, email search and verification, email content and more.

Whether you’re a one-man band or part of an international team, whatever your budget, there’s a tool out there that can help you convert more of your prospects.

Answer their question

When you’re selling to someone, they’ll have questions. They want to know whether what you’re selling is worth more to them than the money you’re asking for. Behind this big question, there’s plenty of little questions, all depending on their levels of awareness. This stems down to:

  • Unaware: They may know something isn’t quite right, but don’t know what.
  • Problem-Aware: They know exactly what’s wrong, but don’t know what to do about it.
  • Solution-Aware: They’re familiar with one or more ways to solve their problem.
  • Company-Aware: They’re aware of you and your specific solution to their problem.

Each level of awareness needs different questions answered. It’s your job to educate them (whether that’s through your website, an email sequence, or some other method), guiding them through each stage to the point they know you provide the best possible solution to their needs.

The best way to work out your prospect’s awareness and the questions their asking is to talk to your existing customers. Get on the phone, email them, or take them out for coffee and find out what objections they had.

Ask for the sell (at the right time)

Sales is a lot like dating. You don’t want to be the guy who’s approaching every girl in sight, asking if they want to marry him.

At the same time, you don’t want to be the person who has a great conversation with someone but never asks for their number, losing the chance to take things to the next step.

In sales, if you’re pressuring your prospects to buy your product in the first line of your first email, you’re not going to get very far. You need to nurture the prospect and build trust. Once you’ve established that relationship though, you need to make it easy for them to say yes. Make sure your sales funnel has a clear path that naturally leads to the sale. If you’ve followed the first technique and are talking to the right people, they’ll be eager to buy from you.

You just need to ask.

While it can be a challenge to convert your prospects to customers, there’s a lot you can do to make that transition as smooth as possible. By talking to the right people and communicating with them effectively, you can dramatically increase your chances of turning your prospects into happy customers.