When you decide that you are embarking upon a business development/sales drive, remember that not all of your prospects are ready to buy on your timetable… in fact, very few will be!
The “build and they will come” mentality rarely works – you have to tell people why they should buy from you and give them a reason to think of you at the time they are ready to purchase.
With budgets at the forefront of everyone’s mind and supplier loyalty at an all-time low in the current economic climate, you have to be patient. Give your prospects useful information at regular intervals and make sure you are speaking to the relevant people who have a need for your product or service. Think of how you buy – what do you like and dislike about suppliers you use? Just because your prospects aren’t ready to buy from you today doesn’t mean that they won’t be ready tomorrow, next week, next month or even next year.
Think about how you are going to maintain an active dialogue with them over the coming months. How will you do this? Will you send physical mail, email, use social media platforms, use your blog or website to communicate with them, or a combination of these tools? Decide what works best for your customer.
Like every area of marketing your direct mail (on and offline) must have a detailed plan in place outlining activities itemised and timelines. You might consider using automated email software that you can set up at the outset – and then almost forget about (ensuring of course your information doesn’t date). So, for example, somebody signs up to receive information from you today and you have twenty communications already set up that they then receive at regular intervals, usually with a welcome email being the starting point.
Or maybe you would prefer a more topical approach, so you plan each month what you are going to talk about and put this content into a newsletter that goes to your email list using your desktop email client or a bulk email sender. Or maybe you will simply write a weekly email covering an interesting topic for your readers and send this at a scheduled time each week. However you do it, make sure it is sustainable for you. I’ve lost track of how many subscriptions I sign up for only for them to stop after just a few haphazard communications!
If your list is right for your business, then remember that the vast majority of your leads are not cold or dead… they’re simply waiting for the right time to buy. And if you aren’t following up with them on a regular basis, they’ll go somewhere else when they are ready to buy. As well as prospective buyers, do you know of anyone who could refer you to their own contacts.
You have to understand the buying behaviour of your prospects and stay in touch throughout the buying cycle. For example, if you are a vehicle leasing company and your customer takes a car this month on a three-year lease, don’t wait until they are two years or more into this before you contact them again! Consistent follow-up and ‘nurture’ marketing ensures that you stay in front of all your prospects and you are at the forefront of their minds when the time is right – and you also have a possibility of them referring you to someone else.