Defining a “Good” Prospect

December 13th, 2009 by | Print

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In the first post of my recently completed 10-part series on the basic principles for turning prospects into clients, I mentioned that these principles only apply to good prospects. My question to you is, “how do you define ‘good’”?

 

Hopefully, your definition goes beyond the prospect’s friendliness and ability to pay promptly.

 

I recommend that you supplant the adjective “good” with “strategic” when qualifying a prospect. Paying the bills is “good”, but to create a successful, sustainable business that doesn’t rely solely on random luck, you need to make choices that are in line with goals established in your business plan.

 

You do have a plan, right? If not, take a quick read through my planning page before going further. Hey, we all know someone that made money playing roulette in Vegas, but how many people do you know making a full time career of it?

 

Here are 5 key questions when qualifying a prospect:

 

1. Does the prospect have the potential to be a long-term customer?

The odds are in your favor of getting multiple sales from customers as compared to converting new prospects. However, if you chase prospects with a one-time need, you better have a plan for reaching a very wide audience. Even multi-billion dollar corporations with massive budgets focus on dominating a niche. As a solopreneur with a significantly smaller marketing budget, you’re better off building relationships with strategic prospects than chasing one-time buyers.

 

2. Can they refer you to other strategic prospects?

Word of mouth is still the leading method for marketing. People listen to and often take the suggestions from people they know when making buying decisions. If you try to build a business on opportunistic sales, where will it lead you? No one knows. Do you then sacrifice your plan and try to service the “everyone” market? Good luck building a brand on that.

Stay focused on a base that doesn’t require you to create disparate products, services and marketing campaigns. Providing excellent customer service to customers within a niche gives you better odds for converting their friends and colleagues without having to create the business of the day to satisfy the unique needs of unrelated prospects.

 

3. If you convert them to a customer, will adding their name to your customer list create extra credibility for future prospects?

Some customer names carry weight. Whether you provide services to IBM or sell beauty products for a particular ethnicity, prospects appreciate seeing that you service other businesses or people with similar needs. This helps establish you as a value-added resource, reducing the fear factor for choosing you as a vendor.

 

4. Will servicing the prospect challenge you in ways that will benefit you with future endeavors?

I don’t know too many entrepreneurs that don’t appreciate a challenge. However, do you find that you dispose of your days dealing with challenges that take you away from reaching your goals? Alternatively, are your challenges rewarding experiences that build your knowledge and expertise within a niche? Spinning your wheels on challenging deals that solely pay the bills leads to early burnout, whereas challenges in synch with your business plan inspire new ideas and new opportunities.

 

5. Can you use samples of the benefits that you bestow upon them as influence to woo new prospects?

In addition to being able to name drop, it helps if you can provide testimonials and samples of similar works for prospects as part of creating persuasive proposals. If your work today has no value for the prospects of tomorrow, what case can you build for converting prospects into customers?

 

In anemic economic times, the temptation is strong to service any prospect willing to part with their money. Maybe your spouse is starting to sour on supporting your solopreneur endeavors or you need a little extra ego boost to prove to yourself that you are a resourceful entrepreneur and not just a hobbyist.

 

Chances are that you need to accept ad hoc work simply for the paycheck. However, try not to get addicted to it. Successful, sustainable businesses are built upon plans, goals and strategies. Your strategy for defining prospects is a significant variable in this equation.

 

Yes, you want to remain flexible and open to other possibilities, but the more time you spend taking what comes your way instead of focusing on strategic prospects, you increase the odds that you will only be as good as the market dictates instead of dominating it.

 

All The Best,

Doug Dolan
The Solopreneur’s Guide

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One Response to “Defining a “Good” Prospect”

  1. increase traffic to my site Says:

    I was just testing this and you’re right on, and timely. It works great. Good Post. Thanks.

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