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It’s Not about You – It’s about Me: Prospect Commitment and How to Grow It

April 7, 2009 ark-com

It’s Not about You – It’s about Me: Prospect Commitment and How to Grow It

Three of this month’s consulting calls focused on solving the same problem – how to generate more sales leads from an existing prospect database. In each case it was an owner of a service business, so with their specific needs in mind, here are a few options for you to consider if you are struggling to solve the same problem.

Firstly, let’s cover the main reason why this situation exists – low levels of prospect commitment. In most cases there’s a chasm of engagement that must be bridged to get someone from subscribing to receive your report or join your newsletter to getting them to become your next customer.

Part of the problem is the incorrect assumption that, by a prospect joining a list or registering for a report, they are more interested in the supplier than they really are. Their initial interest is more likely to be related to the information provided than the business that produced it.

Therefore, helping prospects transfer their engagement from the information to the supplier is a key part of any enhanced lead-generation solution. Once complete, the idea is to capitalise on this new-found engagement by gently convincing them to take the manageable next step in the sales process. Not developing this bond or even failing to provide a doable next step are common faults in this area.

Both of these were issues with one of the businesses I was asked to help. In their case, the sales process had just two steps – register for the report, then buy the service on offer. The business provided high-end consulting services, with a typical engagement price that began at $10,000. Prospects were failing to make this transfer from subscriber to sales lead because a) not enough work was being put into bonding them with the supplier’s team; and b) there weren’t any lesser priced solutions to offer as possible purchase steps for prospects, making the first step to high-priced consulting a difficult one for them to take.

Because there were no lesser priced services available, we discussed building additional steps into the sales process itself. Webinars, fast-fire complimentary consulting sessions and attending physical seminars were all possibilities discussed. That way prospects could reveal their growing interest by attending any of these and, by doing so, signal their willingness to move one step further along the sales process.

Then we tackled the issue of forming a tighter bond between the supplier and the prospects on their list. Without work in this area to improve engagement, it wouldn’t matter how many extra steps we added into the sales process because no one would be taking them. We somehow had to increase the low commitment levels common to any prospect subscriber list enough to convince prospects to attend a webinar or spend 15 minutes on a call.

Articles, reports and all things text were used in their prospect communications. On their own, words frequently lack the power to form the attachment required to get some engagement momentum going. So, a plan was set up to supplement all this text with some audio and video, with the focus on content rather than production values. They recorded some teleconference sessions and did some budget ‘talking head’ 3-minute video work to kick things along.

All this occurred a few weeks ago and the early signs are promising. Messages carrying this new multimedia content are attracting above average readership, but time will tell if this is enough, with the first webinar due to be launched early next month.

About a month ago I experienced firsthand an example of what it was like to be on the receiving end of both good and bad prospect marketing. It was due to my own initial reactions to this and the recent coaching calls that followed that motivated me to get started on this article in the first place.

First, the bad experience. It all started with me attending a webinar hosted by one of the overseas coaching suppliers. The guest speaker presented well on an area I was keen to expand my thinking on. At the end of the call we were given the option to visit their website and register for a report for more information. That was for me, so I traded my details and downloaded it. It was a good read. This person obviously knew their stuff. But then the selling started. For me it felt too soon (it was probably 2 weeks after I had received the download) to make the next step that he was suggesting (which felt more like pushing), which in this case was a quite sizable $3k investment. It wasn’t the price that was the problem, I just didn’t knowthis person well enough yet to make the next move.

My commitment wasn’t there because the bond between him and what he offered and me just wasn’t enough to convince me to take it to the next stage. I am still a subscriber, and the emails are rolling in BUT the bond is still ever so slight and not growing much either.

Compare this with another scenario that happened around the same time. I have been on the email list of another overseas consultant for 8 months now and have received a growing amount of value from their messages. These are mostly text, but the occasional MP3 of a teleconference recording file gets sent and, even less frequently, a video of sorts. The content is very specific to my needs and the bond has steadily grown bit by bit over the months.
You can probably guess where this is heading.

Yes, they released a product – the price point was well within my capability to accept, based not just on its value but also on my level of engagement, so I parted with the $475.00 required, and I was converted from a prospect to a customer. By doing this, I moved my commitment level up a few rungs, which makes the next $1999 product look a lot more enticing and manageable than it ever did before.

So what’s next? Well, if you too suffer from a lack of leads from your prospect list, then I suggest you tackle this problem in two ways: a) by re-evaluating your prospect communications to see if they are doing as good a job as possible in creating a bond between you and those on your list and; b) by presenting extra stages in your sales process or by offering lesser priced product options to make it easier for these prospects to signal their intention to become customers.

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