When you’re looking for new customers, it often feels like too much haystack and not enough needle.
Some prospects tell you they’ll never need your product or service. Others say they might need it someday. And then there are those golden few who say, “Funny you called. I’m actually looking for something like that right now.” If you could get just a few more of those “right now” buyers on your prospect list, what would it do for your close rate?
These buyers may be easier to identify than you think.
Urgent needs don’t just pop up out of the blue. They occur because something has changed – usually unexpectedly, and very often for the worse.
For example, a prospect may tell you, “Sure, we’d like to reduce our operation costs.” But she never seems to have time for a meeting to discuss it in detail. Then one day she learns her company’s sales dropped 10% because of a new low-priced competitor. All of a sudden she wants to know how soon you can come in.
Change is good – for sales
To find prospects who are hurting, look for such changes and think about how they connect with your products and services. For example:
- Wall Street analysts begin evaluating retailers on DSI – days of sale in inventory – rather than the more traditional measure of same-store sales. Suddenly, anything related to inventory management is an urgent concern for these firms. If you can help, retailers should be close to the top of your prospecting list.
- Health plans are sending out renewal notices to companies this month, with significant increases in premiums. You don’t have to be selling insurance to capitalize on this change. The hikes will create all sorts of selling opportunities – in all sorts of areas: cash management, employee communications, safety programs and more.
- A new product enters a market with cutting-edge technology. Suddenly, every other manufacturer feels an urgent need to offer a competing product. If you can help, it’s good news for you.
The following steps can help you uncover urgent-need opportunities:
- Through research, identify changes in a key market or industry that you serve or would like to serve.
- Figure out which people or companies will be most affected by those changes.
- Consider how those changes will create new needs related to the products and services you sell.
This approach allows you to confidently predict which prospects are facing urgent needs. It may also open up new markets for you, because your prospecting is based on needs, not demographics.
You can make your list even richer by sharpening your focus: Which companies have the poorest DSI numbers? Which have been hit hardest with higher insurance premiums? Who’s losing the most market share to the new competitor? Find out and call on them first.
Messages that get meetings
This exercise also helps you create an insightful prospecting message with a high likelihood of striking a nerve.
The message doesn’t have to offer a solution (in fact, it’s better if it doesn’t). Simply by identifying the need, you establish yourself as an expert. The prospect thinks, “Wow, we were just discussing this problem.”
Your chances of scoring a run improve further if you can show how the problem specifically affects the prospect’s area of responsibility. If you’re talking to a production manager, for example, “low-cost competition” is too general. Focus on the shop-floor implications: “We’ve seen many companies feeling pressure from low-cost competitors. Many are wondering how to cut production costs without sacrificing quality. I’d like to discuss how this issue is affecting your manufacturing operation.”
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