In the world of sales, there are easy and hard-to-reach prospects. One isn’t better than the other. Having to work to reach a prospect doesn’t make them any less valuable or viable than one that can be contacted across a dozen channels.
In this article, we look at how sales teams connect with those hard-to-reach prospects, and then the different ways they can get and stay on their radar to drive sales forward.
Why isn’t every prospect easy-to-reach?
In some sectors, especially those with physical premises, an online presence wasn’t considered important. Even retail, at one point, resisted the move into digital marketing and e-commerce. Now, of course, many of these sectors have evolved and even traditional independent retailers are going online.
However, there are still millions of businesses without an online presence. Or a limited one at best. In the long-run, this will work against them. Customers expect an online footprint, a website, social media channels - that need to be active - content marketing, advertising, reviews, and other verifiable sources of trust.
Digital marketing agencies and online review and advertising sites are working hard to attract these potential clients. Ultimately, a long-term relationship with an agency or review and advertising site benefits prospects, generating them more customers and safeguarding them for the future.
For outbound sales teams, getting through to them isn’t always easy. Either they’re too busy. Or without a website they may not even have an email address. Social media presences are often limited too, and messages may not be answered quickly, making it harder to get/find a phone number to call them on.
All of these potential difficulties make it more of a challenge for outbound sales teams to reach them. But none of this is impossible, and providing other service companies can reach them, and customers of course, then so can a sales team. It just means the tactics that work with other types of prospects aren’t always as effective in these sorts of cases, making new approaches and tactics more useful.
Five ways to engage with hard-to-reach prospects
#1: Offline tactics. Email and online messages not working? Have you tried to call and leave voicemails without getting a response? When it comes to more traditional prospects, you need to use somewhat analogue thinking in a digital world.
Before the digital marketing funnel, there was - and still is - a model known as AIDA. This stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action; the aim is to get the attention of a prospect, generate interest, desire and finally action.
Although this sounds like up-ending the approaches many sales and marketing people know to be effective, you have to think about a prospects mindset and what works for them. Every sector is different, of course. So what might work to win over builders merchants in New Hampshire might not work for restaurants in Yorkshire, England.
When it comes to which tactics and approaches to adopt, it does largely depend on the most effective approach for your target prospects and audience. Even if the tactics are different, everything that makes online marketing work is equally useful in an offline setting. Personas, profile, messaging and the qualification process are just as, if not more important when it comes to engaging potential buyers through a wider range of methods and strategies.
#2: Networking and referrals. In some sectors, such as industrial and various sub-sectors of professional services that are still slow to adopt online marketing, networking and referrals are some of the most effective ways to secure new clients.
#3: Print campaigns. How many emails and messages do you think most prospects get from potential service providers?
Dozens, if not hundreds every year. If a prospect is harder-to-reach than those with a larger online presence, then many potential providers will revert to old school outreach tactics. Email. Batches and batches of reheated, barely modified sales emails. What are the chances those will be successful?
Pretty slim, so there is no reason to assume yours, however well written, will make any more of an impact. So, what is needed is a new, more innovative approach. Now think about your target audience. If they’re not online, or not online as much as most people, then why would a digital campaign work with them when they’re expressing a clear preference for offline and analogue ways of thinking?
Do something digital. Stand out. Get noticed. At minimum, make a case for printing a brochure, or something small that can be dispatched in large enough numbers to make it worthwhile, as a way of encouraging prospects calling in. Even if there isn’t an immediate influx, sales teams will make an impression when they call outbound as you will stand out compared to everyone else who is stuck with emails and messages.
#4: Get creative. As per the above method, there are other ways to go one better. Some marketing, advertising and creative agencies get creative. Packaging pitches and offers in innovative ways shows prospects you are making an effort, will get you noticed and likely increase the number of inbound leads.
For example, if your target market is fish and chip shops, make a pitch look like cod and chips, in a box or bundle of newspapers, and then send that out to a target prospect list. A guaranteed way of getting noticed and receiving inbound calls, plus making it easier when calling out to a prospect list.
#5: Instant online (over the phone) demos. And last but certainly not least, one of the most effective ways to demonstrate a product or service that hard-to-reach prospects need is through an online demo. Once you’ve got a decision maker on the phone, instead of hoping you’ll be able to reach them again later, you should invite them to an Instant Demo - which they can join online, on a tablet, or smartphone, without the need to download anything or make any kind of effort.
This way, instead of booking an appointment for a future demo call, they find out about your product/services straight away. No waiting. No chance or excuse for the prospect to get busy, forget, or go with another service provider. Now you can reduce the sales cycle and increase conversion rates, with fewer calls to get more clients to say yes.