The process of converting a prospect to a client can seem like it takes forever. You meet a prospective client, follow up with him or her over time, and hopefully have a chance to make a sales presentation or schedule an initial consultation at no charge. Then you follow up some more, trying to close the sale. Months can pass, or even years, between your first encounter and getting the prospect to sign on the bottom line.
How do you keep following up for all that time without being a pest? Is asking prospects over and over, “Are you ready to buy yet?” the best way to go about it? How can you build the trust of your prospects enough that they become willing to take the risk of hiring you?
The answer to these bothersome questions just might be found in this simple idea. Treat those prospects as if they were already your clients — they just haven’t paid you yet.
Imagine what it would be like to treat every prospective client you encounter as if you were already working together. Every time you contact your prospects, you offer an article they might be interested in, an introduction to someone who might help them with a goal, or an invitation to an upcoming event in their field.
When you meet with them, you listen to their problems and recommend solutions. When you contact them after a meeting, you suggest resources for helping them address the issues you discussed. The solutions and resources you recommend may include your products and services, of course, but you don’t stop there. You also offer answers that don’t involve hiring you.
The impact of this kind of generosity on your prospective clients can be dramatic. Instead of considering your calls or e-mails an interruption, they will welcome hearing from you. They will no longer count you as a salesperson or vendor, but rather as a valuable resource and important person to know.
I’m not talking about giving away the store. I don’t recommend providing the client with free training, spending hours addressing their issues at no charge, or otherwise practicing your profession without pay. It is completely appropriate to ask for and expect payment for doing your professional work.
But what I am suggesting is a shift in your attitude, to being of service instead of selling a service. Give your prospects a taste of just how valuable you could be to them if they were to hire you. Be generous with the information and contacts you already have at your disposal. It only takes a few minutes to pass along a phone number, clipping, or helpful web site, but the impact can be unforgettable.
The effect of this shift on you can be just as significant as the effect on prospective clients. You will eliminate those dreaded sales calls from your agenda and focus instead on what you do best — helping people. You will no longer fear or resist making contact with prospects, but will begin looking forward to it. Instead of selling, you will be serving.
The fastest way to turn a prospect into a client may be simply to change how you think about them.