I received a question today from a reader (please send me YOUR questions, they will likely be published and you will become famous!)
Here is what this entrepreneur asked:
“Dear Irreverent Sales Girl,
I have developed a software product that is designed for sole-practitioner-business-coaches. It is so popular that 2-3 times a month I get approached by organizations who really like it but need a more enterprise-wide solution (i.e. teams of coaches).
I have plans for expanding my product to offer an enterprise version, but it’s still months off and it would be irresponsible to make any solid promises regarding specific timelines. I explain as much during phone calls, and my candor regarding how I don’t have anything to sell them right now is always appreciated. We always end on a sort of “Great, we’ll be back in touch” or “keep us posted” note.
I can’t help but think I could be doing things a lot better for cultivating a connection for a sale down the road, when I DO have a product ready for them
What can I do to make the best of genuine interest now for an offering I will have later?
~ Call Me in Six Months”
Dear Call Me in Six Months:
First, let me commend you on a few things that you have done very, very right!
* You have created a product that is useful to your marketplace. Kudos!
* You are discovering a new niche (and possibly one with more money to spend!)
* You are telling the TRUTH and gaining credibility
* You are taking the time to develop what will WORK, rather than trying to kluge (yes, that is a word) a product just to sell it now – when you know it will not live up to your standards or theirs.
What is funny is that you gave yourself your own answer – in your sign-off … I will end with that revelation in answer #3. Let’s talk through the 3 simple ways to set yourself up for a sale in the future.
The 3 Simple Ways To Set Yourself Up For A Sale In The Future
#1: Schedule an hour with the person to do an informational call. You have a crazy advantage here. You have NOTHING to sell , so there will be no pressure. Make sure this is a call that is SEPARATE from the one in which you have gained their trust by telling them you don’t have what they need … right now. If they are serious, they will commit the time.
On this call, get the answers to the following questions:
* What, specifically interests YOU about the software?
* What challenges are you dealing with that you think the software will solve?
* How are you addressing those challenges now?
* What goals do you have currently that you think the software can help you achieve?
* When you see our enterprise solution … and you like it … who else helps decide if you will buy it?
* Are you familiar with how your company buys a product like this and how does that process go?
* What other solutions are you considering right now?
* Do you have budget for this kind of solution, or would it help you to start getting the costs associated with the software, so that you can build it into your budget for the future?
* Schedule a call for six months from now – see #3 below
#2: Set up a reminder for yourself to contact that person once-every-three-weeks. Keep yourself top-of-mind, but not pesty!
The customer will remember that you care. Each contact should be to either:
* Celebrate advances in the development of your enterprise solution
* Ask them how they are doing against the goals you discussed in the first conversation
* Both of the above
#3: Ask them to schedule a call with you for six months from now (see how you answered your own question!). This will accomplish the following:
* It will push you to be ready with an enterprise-wide solution
* It will demonstrate that the customer is truly interested (if they won’t commit to a conversation in the future, they are only vaguely interested)
* It will (in many circumstances) save you from trying to track them down again when you are “ready” (remember, priorities change, but when people put something on the calendar – it makes them think differently about their relationship with you – they are more invested.)
If you are TRULY ambitious…
Create an “Under Construction” newsletter – or some such thing – that you send out to tell people about you, your company, your successes, and what is coming next!
Most of all, of course, keep a database of these marvelous people with detailed notes about your interactions.
SO, “Call Me in Six Months”, I am delighted you asked.
Let’s ask other readers: What do you think “Call Me in Six Months” should do? I can’t wait to hear your answers!
Love ’em UP!
The Irreverent Sales Girl