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Three criteria to differentiate good and bad prospects

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Over the years I have developed a sixth sense for recognizing uninteresting prospects, those who consume your time and will have a zero ROI.

Criterion 1: The emergency factor

A prospect contacts you. It is urgent. He/She needs your offer within 24 hours.

You have no idea how he found you (the miracles of Internet most probably), you’ve never seen him/her before and never had him/her on the phone. What is sure however is that he needs an offer right now.

If you sell a made-to-measure service (like our market researches) you can already recognize that your prospect is ignorant because all offers are tailored to the very needs of the client and there is no one-size-fits-all services. What most probably happens is that your prospect is a would-be entrepreneur that just want to get a vague idea of how much you service costs to include it in his/her financial plan. In our case, including the cost of a market research should aim at reassuring the banks that the business plan is based on something. How naïve do you think bankers are ?

My advice : answer politely with a general price but do not waste your time going in detail.

Criterion 2: no follow-up

You have made your offer on time and you have the impression you did a good job. Yet you receive no reaction from the prospect even though his request seemed to be important (for him at least) .

My advice : Try a recovery strategy like this one. Send him/her an email saying “We have not received any response from you. We assume that your needs have changed and that our services are not needed anymore. Feel free to contact us again if your situation were to change.” At this precise moment there are two possibilities. Either you get a response within 12 hours (go to criterion 3) or you do not receive any. In the absence of response erase this prospect from your list and please have a little bit of ego. If by chance this prospect were to contact you again, remember him that he forgot to reply to your emails and that you don’t have any more time to lose with him/her.

Criterion 3: Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything

The previous paragraph has taught you my rule of the 12 hours. Let’s now imagine your prospect did answer after you’ve sent him/her a reminder. All hope is not lost but we must again look closely at the answer to see if it is worthwhile to continue the discussion.

If the answer is something like ” I’m overwhelmed right now and I’ll do my best to answer by the end of the month” (it’s a real answer I received a few days ago) you can abandon all hope. Your prospect was not really interested. He/she doesn’t feel any urgency … in other words there’s no needs. Another typical response is ” I have many things to do and you will answer as soon as possible.” Just to be clear buddy … I’ve also a lot to do and you want understand that I don’t want to squander my time with you.

In short, you’ll understand that everything is in education and politeness. If your prospect does not even bother to apologize because he didn’t reply to any of the emails you sent, erase his/her name off your list.

Conclusion

Politeness and education are highly and positively correlated with the potential of a prospect.

Author: Pierre-Nicolas Schwab

Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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