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November 3, 2016

Cindy Penchina, President

How to Keep Your Prospects EngagedEver try getting through to prospects only to wonder if they’ve all collectively changed their identities, moved out to the middle of the wilderness, and reverted to hunter/gatherer times?

I mean, that would explain why they never responded to your emails or returned your phone calls. And it would certainly be a heck of a lot easier than accepting the fact that they were just not that into you, or, more importantly, what you were selling

And therein lies the problem - selling.

Don’t get me wrong; there’s a time and place for selling, and many people make quite the living that way. However, for businesses with a sales cycle longer than that of a taco stand, that time and place is not in the first email/first interaction/first anything. It needs to be earned over time, when the prospect quite literally warms to you. No one wants a binding commitment when all they’ve asked for is your store hours.

So let’s take a step back for a moment and talk about how to keep your prospects interested and engaged so they can warm up to your business.

Provide Clear Value

One of the main reasons businesses struggle to keep their prospects engaged is because they aren’t offering anything that the prospects deem truly worthwhile; oftentimes it’s all about the sale.

At the beginning stages of your relationship with your prospects, the goal should never be to force a sale on them, but rather, to help, to educate, and to provide real, concrete value.

Think of engaging with new prospects as you would the beginning of a new romantic relationship. You don’t simply meet someone for dinner and then propose marriage the same night; you first must court them, get to know who they are, learn more about what they’re looking for, and then determine if you're a good fit.

This often overlooked “courting” stage is critically important in your business relationships. It lays the groundwork for the future of the relationship, allows you to build trust, and, most importantly, provide concrete value to the prospect based on their unique needs. It also ensures that you’ll stay top of mind so that when your prospect is ready to buy, you’ll be the first one they’ll think of.

Let Content Be Your Guide

A great way to provide value and be a go-to source of information for your prospects is through sharing altruistic, helpful, and educational content that solves their problems. This could be anything from blog posts to infographics to ebooks to nurturing email campaigns; it will all depend on the goals of your prospects and how you can help them reach them.

For example, let’s say you’re trying to engage a cold prospect who is unhappy working from their home office. Why not send them that guide you just put together about the benefits of renting office space? It may take a little time to write, but costs you nothing, and can really work to your benefit.

By addressing your prospects’ challenges before they even think to ask, they’ll have reason to trust you and want to work with you when the time comes.

Change Your Communication Platform

But communication platforms are not all created equal, and just because someone isn’t responding to your emails doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not interested. It may just mean that they don’t pay much attention to emails in general. So if you find that your communications aren’t landing, try switching up the platform.

Trying to reach a wider audience? Why not focus your efforts on social media? Looking to communicate face to face? Try speaking at local networking events and reaching your audience that way. There’s really no one-size-fits all solution, it’s all about learning how your prospects like to receive their information and then focusing your efforts there.

Know When It’s Time to Let Go

But just like with romantic relationships, some things just weren’t meant to be. And while you can waste weeks, months, or even years trying to make things work, sometimes, at the end of the day, you’re just two very different people with two very different sets of needs. And at this point, you should tactfully end the relationship and cut your losses.

Enter the infamous break-up email, where you’ll attempt to cut ties while letting your prospect know that you’ll be there should they change their mind in the future.

Here’s an example of a what a break-up email might look like in practice:

It's been awhile since we spoke and I'm assuming that you've decided to go in a different direction. That's fine, but if you just need more time, let me know and I'll be happy to check back with you in a few weeks. 

Let me know either way as the last thing I want to do is keep "bugging" you if you're all set. 

But keep in mind that even if all of your other emails have gone unnoticed, this one could be the game-changer, getting prospects’ attention again and motivating them to take action. (Obviously, you shouldn’t expect this, but it is a distinct possibility).

In either case, sent at the appropriate time, the break-up email can be really effective. It’ll either weed out any bad prospects who aren’t doing anything for you and never will, or it’ll motivate them to get back in touch so they won’t lose out on your offerings.

The key to keeping your prospects engaged is by guiding them, not smothering them. Then, if they do decide to work with you, it’ll be because they were able to make that decision independently, even though you played a large (yet unassuming) part in getting them there.

And in the end, they’ll be glad they did.

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