We've all been there. You spend what seems like an eternity problem-solving for a prospective customer or client, then... radio silence. Over time, I've developed five ways to help guarantee a followup response and bring the deal to a close so, here they are.
1. The Take Home
You need something that hovers around their periphery to remind them of your value proposition. Info-widgets, checklists, articles, reports, scorecards all qualify as a "Take Home" and make great lead-generation devices for your practice. Similar to the "incentive" in what they get, it's different because of when you give it.
Unlike the "Ethical Incentive (Bribe)", you're giving the Take Home with no expectation of reciprocity for the value provided. If you've ever been given a branded notepad from your mortgage person or a calendar from your dentist, you've been influenced by the Take Home—just not as profoundly has you could have been.
The Take Home will probably be effective in as much as it is repeatedly useful in the recipient's life. Many "attempted" Take-Home's are of limited value. Cheap trinkets offering no ongoing utility waste both your time and your prospects, not to mention the materials that go into producing cheap crap. Furthermore, many professionals stop at including their contact information while forgetting the most important element of an effective Take Home: reminding them of your value and uniqueness. Make sure yours incorporates a superior statement-of-value. Finally, a Take-Home can be designed to help "close the loop", as it were, with a strong call-to-action.
Examples of the Take Home:
- Reference Tools
- Notebooks and other appropriately branded materials
- Data Sheets
- News clippings
2. The Open Loop
Whoah, didn't we just talk about "closing the loop"? Sometimes the Take Home is insufficient to do that – The Loop is still open. For the purposes of eliciting a follow-up response, that's what we want. Create a subconscious opening that can only be closed by getting back in touch. This usually involves providing inadequate information to leave the prospect satisfied but it can also be procedural in nature. You need to create a follow-up framework and a "First, this, then that" expectation in your prospect. If you've ever submitted an application for employment you know what it's like to anticipate the closing of that loop! Sometimes you want them to take the extra time to fill out a physical response card. These are great opportunities to ask for qualifying information. But, unlike the antiquated college admissions procedure, I hope you can agree that giving someone the opportunity to respond electronically is a much more efficient way to ask for the response!
Examples of the Open Loop:
- College Applications
- Client Questionnaires
- RFP's and RFB's
- Review sessions
- Confirmation notices.
- Unclaimed benefits
3. The Ethical Incentive (Bribe)
Offer something exclusive that isn't available by any other means. This can be unique or highly-relevant information, a bonus, a better deal or superior terms on a deal. You're stacking value in exchange for the response you want.
Examples of The Incentive:
- Any Kind of "Bonus Material"
- Value-added information (trade secrets)
- Exclusive experience (Group Environment, meeting somebody important).
- Priority status (advanced notice or information or access to stuff)
4. The Take-Away
The opposite of the "Ethical Bribe", the Take-Away can be even more effective at bringing about the desired result. You've probably had the Take-away used on you many times. That's because it works devastatingly well on people who are already "sold" on the concept, but are immobilized by overthinking. In other words, fence-sitters. I also call it the "Limited window of opportunity" appeal. It's what auctioneers use when they say "Going once, going twice...".
The specific psychology at play is that people are 10x more motivated to prevent a perceived loss than realize a potential gain. Offer a compelling reason, sometimes time-sensitive or limited-availability, which portends to a momentary advantage, limited window of opportunity or other appeal to opportunism that must be acted upon now. The focus is on self-interest, scarcity, urgency and competition.
Examples of the Take-Away
- Time-sensitive: Offer good through xx/xx
- Limited Availability: Available to the next xxxx respondents only
- Countdown: "Going once, going twice..."
- Contractual "first right of refusal"
- All Aboard! "The train is leaving the station..."
5. The Accountability Card
In the wide and wacky world of business it's all too easy to let down one person. Much harder it is to let down multiple people at the same time. Include third parties in your talks to create pressure and enforce accountability from adjacent stakeholders in the transaction. Another technique is to use reverse accountability, also the "Think of the children..." appeal, or appeal to someone's sense of responsibility or propriety. The key is to involve others who have a material interest in moving the transaction forward. More people also make great "packing peanuts" for the final delivery of the deal. This is my term for extra bodies.
Examples of The Accountability Card:
- Involve their family/spouse;
- Involve the other decision makers;
- involve the auditing dept.;
- involve the facilitator;
- their inside champions and;
- involve their direct reports.
By these methods you can bring a lot more deals to a close.