In sales, losing a prospect is the same as losing money. So when a promising prospect turns up, the immediate impulse is to pursue that person as actively as possible until the deal is closed, because otherwise they might slip through your fingers for good. Yet when trying to stay in touch with a prospect, it's important to walk the line carefully between being determined and obnoxious. If you slip over into the wrong side of that divide, it can be hard to recover, and you could very well end up losing a prospect because of the very work you did to try and hang onto them.
So how do you stay on top of a potential sale without overdoing it or pushing the person away?
First of all, it's important that whenever you contact any prospect, you have something new to say to them, and something of real value. Simply reminding them over and over that you exist and/or that you're interested in their business is not enough to make them want to work with you, and can actually have the opposite effect. If you're too repetitive, you can become grating or, even worse, turn into white noise, automatically ignored and never seriously considered.
Rather than merely checking in with a prospect just to stay on their radar, try to offer them something of worth whenever you make contact. Think of new ways that the product or service you're trying to sell might benefit the person you're selling it to. If there's something the prospect needs that you cannot personally offer, find potential other sources for it and point those out. Even something like an article or anecdote that the prospect would find helpful or interesting can be a good excuse to reach out to them again. Always have a reason to communicate with them beyond just trying to make a sale, and your relationship will grow more quickly in the short term and be much stronger in the long run.
It's also important to figure out the appropriate frequency with which to contact any prospect. To do so more than once a week is almost always going to come across as excessive, and even biweekly or monthly can be often enough as long as you're always bringing relevant, interesting content to your correspondences. Not every prospect should be contacted with the same frequency, either. Longer-term prospects can have longer pauses in between communications, whereas someone who you're right on the edge of closing a deal with shouldn't be given too much of a chance to change their minds. Figuring out how regularly to contact a new prospect will partially be a matter of trial and error, but the ideal goal is to give them enough space that you never grow tiresome, but still check in often enough that they never forget about you.
Once you're following up with a prospect regularly, you may also start getting responses from them. If so, it's important to really pay attention to what they're saying, and use that to inform your future communications with them. After all, nobody wants to feel ignored. If they ask you a question, be sure to get back to them ASAP with an answer. If they have a problem or concern, address it as quickly as you can. Whenever they take the time to respond to you, it's important that they feel heard, that the whole exchange is treated as a two-way conversation. If you're only interested in bombarding them from your end but aren't genuinely curious about what they have to say back, then there's no real reason for them to hear you out, either. Being attentive encourages your prospects to do the same and to stay in touch with you, and it sets a good precedent for your future customer service, should they decide to buy from you down the line.
Varying what you say, knowing when to say it, and listening to the responses you receive are all key to nurturing your prospects without getting under their skin. Keep them in your sights, but don't crowd their vision, and you'll be converting prospects into customers more often than not.
Matthew Derman is a Pennsylvania-born, Boston-educated writer and customer service specialist. He currently works at Repsly as a customer success manager, focusing on supporting customers, and is a regular contributor to several blogs. He is a comicbook enthusiast, amateur comedian, and dedicated dog owner.