Who exactly are your prospective buyers? If you have a locally- or regionally-based business, your list of potential customers can seem endless.
To you, “everyone” is one of your prospective buyers.
You work for a sales culture who tells you it’s all a numbers game. You churn and burn through leads lists of “everyone.” These lists are never large enough. You are not making your numbers.
You start looking for prospective buyers from other sources. Where oh where do you know large numbers of people who know you?
You convince yourself that the folks on the following lists will logically be interested in doing business with you.
After all, why shouldn’t these prospective buyers “owe” you their business?
The Friends and Family Prospective Buyer List. This list is your cheerleading squad. This list is your boot-strapping mentors. If these folks weren’t your friends and family, would they pay attention to the products and services you are selling? They don’t understand “what you do” enough to refer you to someone who does. They may love you a lot, but they don’t owe you their business.
The Place of Worship Prospective Buyer List. You send everyone in your place of worship directory an email about your products and services. You advertise in the weekly bulletin. You walk into the service late, at the entrance at the front of the chapel, wearing your branded gear like a billboard (yes, I just saw this last Sunday). You identify yourself as part of the worship community, but that’s the extent of your relationship with the attendees. Most of these people don’t know who you are. A few might read your email or flyer. The majority won’t pay attention. They relegate your communication into their “spam” file and hit “Delete.” They pray with you, but they don’t owe you their business.
The Local PTO Prospective Buyer List. Your children attend the same school or play on the same sports teams. Other than that, you may have nothing in common. You invite everyone in the PTO to friend you on Facebook or connect on LinkedIn. Then you pitch to all of them. You are surprised when they unfriend you or delete you as a connection. These folks are not in the least bit interested in what you are selling. They carpool with you, but they don’t owe you their business.
The High School / College Alumni Prospective Buyer List. One of the members of your sales team is calling on a company. But wait: you went to high school with the owner. You feel you should be calling on that company instead. The other rep is making great headway. You get jealous. You call the owner to “reconnect and talk about old times.” You derail the sale. The other rep is pissed. You get assigned the lead and it goes… nowhere. The owner doesn’t owe you the business just because you went to school together. The “old times” are passed; they’ve moved on, without you.
- Keep your business relationships strictly business.
- Create a targeted list of prospective buyers based on solid homework of their company and industry.
- Create a compelling and legitimate reason for their doing business with you.
Babette N. Ten Haken, President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, is a management consultant and business coach. She helps startups and small-to-medium manufacturing and service companies who have difficulty with unpredictable revenue streams.