What about the prospect list that isn’t a list?

Last time, we talked about your prospect list (or lack thereof). What about the prospects that aren’t on a list: the folks who have decided to get their info about you via one or more social media platforms. You may feel that the list discussion doesn’t apply to you because your prospects get their product info without signing up for anything. They follow you on Twitter, Instagram and/or Snapchat, they’ve liked your business page on Facebook, or connected on LinkedIn. In most of those cases, you don’t have their contact info other than perhaps the ability to direct message them (don’t, except to reply to their questions).

Like your prospect list members, social media oriented prospects also fit the profile of “a friend who needs the information and advice they’d ask of the friend and expert (you) prior to making a decision about a possible purchase”.

Tracking is different

On a list, you can monitor responses and segment the list into sub-lists so that the people who are clearly showing more interest will be the ones who get the next piece of info you’d typically provide. On social media, there are tools that can make that easier, but you will often find yourself having multiple public-facing conversations at once. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you need to be prepared for it. Without being a robot, you need to have “canned” responses to the most frequently asked questions and comments about the products and services you sell. You’ll want to post this sequence of thoughts, advice and questions via your social channels.

You might be thinking that you don’t have a list of questions like that, but I suspect you do. It’s in your head, perhaps taken for granted because your responses are so ingrained in your mind that you can answer them as easy as you can turn a doorknob. It’s like muscle memory. We all have those questions that we can answer well, even if someone wakes us up at two am. I suggest transcribing those responses from your head onto paper or perhaps better, into a centrally available document that your team can use even if you and your expertise have gone fishing for the day.

As an example, what are the common sales objections that you have to address? Those things go on the list. Objections aren’t always reasons why people don’t want your stuff, they’re more likely to be an entry point into a discussion that addresses why your product or service fits their needs better than the other options they’re looking at – or why yours don’t.

On a social channel, you’ll attract prospects and buyers. Encourage the formative signs of a helpful community. Be the cheerleader, recruiter and mentor. Your presence when the community is small will be critical to its growth.

Think about the buying process

In order to prepare a series of postcards or emails for your list (or a series of social posts), you need to think deeply about the evaluation and purchase process. If you were to write a guide to buying whatever you sell, and that guide was the only resource you could provide to someone looking to buy – what would it say? What would it talk about first? What process of evaluation and selection would it take the prospective buyer through? What questions would it ask to help them choose the standard item in the warehouse vs. the special order or custom-built item? What installation and delivery questions should someone ask? How do your processes for delivery, installation and service after the sale vary? How do they compare to the “industry norm”?

What happens after the sale?

After the sale, the buyer still has questions. The questions change to care and feeding, update, maintenance, cleaning, re-use, deployment, training, replacement, refills, etc. These same questions are ideal topics for both your prospect list and your social channels. Many times, they’ll help a prospect learn of an important facet of the purchase and ownership process that they hadn’t considered. This is an ideal use for video, even though all of the stages from prospect to seasoned user benefit from help that’s best suited to a specific media type. Video is great for how-to info, for example.

Whether the message gets to your prospects and clients via old school media, new school media, or both – the important thing is that it matters to them.

Photo by p_a_h

Are your prospects giddy?

My apologies for not providing you with your expected Monday morning post, but I was a little distracted yesterday.

You see, at 4:49pm Mountain time, I became a grandfather for the first time.

And this morning, before she got another chance to divert my attention – and yes, she’s already quite good at that – I thought it might be worthwhile to make note of two markets that you might be ignoring.

Or maybe not ignoring, but not doing enough to pursue them.

Does your business have an affinity toward new parents or new grandparents?

If so, what are you doing to put yourself in front of them at the most critical times – before and just after the new arrival?

Photographers these days seem to have a handle on this for the most part. It’s hard to find a nursery/OB area in a hospital that doesn’t have free, large-format baby photos from a local photographer – with their contact info.

Some even offer the new parents a free first portrait by including a coupon in the gift basket provided by the hospital.

Some might even use the local public records, or at least the birth announcements in the paper, to know that it’s time to send something to get the attention of the new parents.

But what about financial planners (babies affect finances), tax planners (babies affect taxes), real estate agents (babies take up space – and so does their stroller, crib, and the litany of other gear), or cigar stores (why not a map for the grandfather to your store?)

Or maybe the front desk has a supply of coupons for a complimentary pair of cigars – regardless of the type, tobacco or bubble gum) with a coupon to get them into the store for a whole box – even if they are bubble gum. And of course, that coupon has a map and a phone number on it so the grandfather – often from out of town – will know exactly how to find you quickly so he doesn’t miss any more time with that new grandchild than he has to.

And what about car salespeople, pediatricians, dentists, churches, camera stores and day care centers?

If done carefully, and at the right time, each of these markets (and others) have an opportunity to intelligently market their services to the new parents – without overwhelming them with slimy pitches.

And then, there are the grandparents:)

Estate attorneys, financial planners, baby goods retailers, and many others may find themselves the recipients of unanticipated business from new grandparents.

What are you doing to attract those new grandparents rather than let that business happen due to blind luck?

Even coffee shops could provide a small sample of coffee for the hospital gift basket. Why coffee?

Because new parents don’t get much sleep, silly.

Put some thought into your message, keep it personal, but don’t be slimy.

It’s always nice to have new prospects who are thrilled to give you money because you’re in the right place at the right time.

And because they’re giddy:)