Prospecting and approaching the online buyer is different from how it is offline. The offline, traditional, approach offers numerous opportunities for prospecting. Prospecting is the continual search for potential buyers (prospects) for your product or service and the cornerstone of successful selling.
Depending on what he is selling, the seller can call up names of persons appearing in, say, the movers and shakers column of a newspaper that features upwardly mobile individuals; he can also join professional or social clubs such as the Rotary, Toastmasters, private member clubs, associations, community or church groups and prospect therein.
One can also look up names in a professional members directory or, he can spend time selling in a market populated with prospects such as a large employer or he can just show up at a prospect’s office.
The digital, online, approach, on the other hand, is a different kettle of fish. As we have shared here before, the online prospect has much more control over the sale than the seller. Now, a salesperson by his very nature is perceived by the buyer as intimidating, pushy; the default thinking of the buyer is to actively avoid the seller. And because it is much easier to avoid him online, the buyer can mercilessly deploy that power.
This means that online, the seller has to change his prospecting and approach. This transition is easier if the seller was already connected with his customers, offline. However, if he struggled to connect with the prospect offline, the struggle will only get magnified online.
Irrespective though, the prospecting is comparatively less forward online. The more, given that the current buyer is feeling unsafe in these times of uncertainty we are living in.
Online, the prospecting and approach in many instances is simultaneous. And whereas it may be less forward compared to the traditional method, it is much more active in its engagement.
This is because the buyer needs to feel safe before he can open his arms in a, “Welcome, I’m ready to listen” gesture. And this cannot happen with the seller acting all aggressive calling him up, sending unending emails or insisting that the buyer should accept the pandemic is here and move on. Instead he approaches the acutely cautious buyer in the manner in which wise private schools should be approaching parents.
Engaging them with sensitivity; approach them through involvement; engaging them by showing how they would like to keep their children productively busy during this ‘no-school’ year as opposed to ‘you must pay to meet our operating costs’. ‘Or else what?’, the parent wonders. ‘You’ll send my daughter home?’ ‘Oh, wait a minute. She already is home and you cannot go shopping for another child elsewhere.’
Sellers should engage prospects with the knowledge that right now, unless it is food he is selling, the seller needs the buyer more. And prospecting online is largely through pulling which we shall be addressing right here, next Thursday.