Potential customers are just like potential mates – there is a progression of your relationship that you must go through to gain their loyalty. From wooing and courting to signing business and putting a ring on it, there are many similarities between the two processes. Like a woman in a bar, prospects are used to being hit on – today’s generation even expects to be marketed to. Since they have so many suitors approaching them, they have the freedom of picking and choosing which one they go home with. However, you too have choices, and you need to learn not to waste your precious time on unsuitable candidates. Here’s a rundown of the prospect-to-client evolution, or as I like to call it, The Dating Game.
Prospecting (or in the online dating world: Stalking)
When it comes to picking a mate, you first need to know what you want in a relationship. ITM is a common prospecting tactic that involves researching if someone even qualifies as a prospect because your time is precious and you can’t be wasting it on someone you’ll never land – the letters stand for Interest, Time, and Money. If a prospect isn’t interested at all in you or doesn’t have the time of day to give you, you need to move on. And your love may be cheap but it isn’t free, so if your prospect can’t afford your services then why are you even bothering?
Now that you have a good pool of prospective dates, look into your options. Are you going to try online dating? Prospect customers and clients through LinkedIn, and networking events and Happy Hours are great places to meet people as well. Once you’ve scoped out a qualified prospect try to find a mutual connection who can introduce you or set you up – word-of-mouth recommendations are the most trusted. When you finally make a connection, you’ve got to ask for that First Date. Remember to be persistent, but not annoying.
When you’re on a first date, you want to show your best side, but you can’t reveal everything you’ve got. You know that your prospect is still dating around with their other options, so by giving away your strategy you could get hurt since they’re not committed to you yet. Find out about your prospect – where have they been? Where do they want to go? And the sweet spot – where does it hurt and how can you help? Once you’ve determined that you’d be a good fit for each other, it’s time to ask for that second date.
Popping the Question
Now that you know you want this person to be exclusive with you, you need to propose. In between dates you should send them articles that remind you of them to show that you were listening and you do care about them. This meeting is all about pulling out the big guns and showing them what you really can do. Taking extra time to learn about this prospect before you pull out a proposal proves you are ready to commit to them. First review what they told you and then make yourself the solution to their problems. Let them know that if they let you, you can be their hero, baby.
Congratulations, you won their business (heart)! You’re probably both elated about the future, and things are going smoothly. Remember that this is the honeymoon phase of your relationship… there will be trial and tribulations throughout this journey, and you’ll both have to put in work to make this partnership successful. Now is the best time to establish expectations so there isn’t disappointment down the road.
Relationship Maintenance (see: Marriage)
Here is really where you get to prove yourself. Follow through with your promises. Continue to send your client personalized information that you believe is relevant to them. Check in on them when you know they’re back from vacation, or just got married, or had a baby, or a relative died. Don’t just ignore them once you’ve got their business – you’ve got to continually work to make them happy and loyal.
I’ve been in customer service for 10 years, so I’ve got a lot more experience there than with dating. I’ve learned that the whole “the customer is always right” mantra shouldn’t apply to dating, but the “money back guarantee” one should when it comes to bad dates. Just like a twenty-something girl who realizes her worth in a relationship, you too should be more selective with your business. What kind of person do you really want to get into a relationship with?