Several weeks ago Allison Smith of Dandelion Digital approached me with this question: Do you have resources on how to do this diligent research of ideal prospects? Since I did not have a downloadable resource to share with her (yes, this is now on the “to do” list), I decided to create a case study.
Allison has now started the process of creating her list of ideal prospects. The next step will be to connect with them and inspire a conversation. This initial conversation is not about selling. It is about learning and understanding more about the company/organization, and exposing any assumptions Allison might be making about her target market and how she can best be of service.
How will she approach these prospects? What will she say to inspire conversation?
Alison wants to work locally, within her own community. This includes Beaver Bank, Sackville, Bedford, Fall River and East Hants. She’s already attending several networking events for businesses within this geography and meeting the owners of boutiques, coffee shops, salons, etc.
Dandelion Digital is all about “posting with purpose”. Allison is combining her skill as a photographer with her knowledge of social media to help clients improve their content and raise their public profile with high-quality images.
Here’s the pattern I suggest that she follow for each prospect she approaches:
1. Leave a voicemail message first. While not everyone checks their voicemail regularly, it is valuable to include tone of voice in our communication with prospects. It is our tone of voice that contains our enthusiasm for our work, our interest in their work and … it confirms that we are real, not automated, not a call centre. This message is the beginning of trust.
The message can simply say: “Hi Chris, this is Allison Smith calling from Dandelion Digital. We met briefly at a recent Chamber event. I have a quick question for you about your business and can be reached at (phone number), that’s (phone number). I’m also going to take the liberty of sending you an email, in case that’s easier for you, so look for me in your inbox.”
The “quick question” works with the power of human curiosity and increases the number of returned calls Allison receives. Letting Chris also know about the email will increase the likelihood that the message will be seen and read.
2. The email message, which should be sent immediately after leaving the voicemail message, is also simple. To further support the email being seen and read, my clients and I have had great success with this subject line – RE: My voicemail message earlier today. In this example, the subject line directs Chris to listen to the voicemail message if she’s picked up the email first.
The body of the email is short with lots of white space: Hi Chris, You and I met recently at a Chamber online event and I have a quick question about your business. It would be great to have a 15-minute conversation. Please use this link to view my calendar and choose a time that fits best with your busy schedule (link). I look forward to speaking with you soon.
I’ve been using an appointment app to book phone conversations for several years now and it is a game-changer. It has allowed me to increase my revenue substantially … and save time. I consider it a vital tool for success.
When Allison creates the link to her calendar, she can include options for a specified period of time, say two weeks. If she doesn’t hear from Chris within those two weeks, she can reach out again and provide a “refreshed” link.
3. When Chris and Allison connect, Allison wants to create a very short, professional and dynamic opening for their conversation. It could be something like this: “Hi Chris, Thanks for taking the time to speak with me. The reason I wanted to connect is I’ve been looking at your postings on social media and noticed you use a lot of images to interact with your followers. With a background in professional photography, I specialize in working with local businesses to help them “post with purpose” and I’m wondering … what’s the biggest challenge you have right now in terms of managing your social media?”
This introduction is less than 20 seconds. The focus is not on Allison’s work but rather on inspiring a conversation. The right open-ended question will provide her with plenty of time to tell Chris more about her work. More importantly, she’ll learn more about Chris’ business and uncover whether she can, indeed, be of service.
No matter how extensive your research into your target market, you cannot be confident that a business is a potential client until you have a conversation. Following a pattern of consistent, professional outreach is how you create those conversations. This isn’t about selling, its about learning. The depth of the conversations you create is what leads to future sales.
Questions? Comments? Leave them in the comment section below. I’ll definitely reply.