17 May 2016

Prospect Management

Grow or die. That is the reality for any business.

It stands to reason that even before trying to win new sales, the first step is to prevent losing sales. Concentrate on the bird in your hand.

As far as the art and science of marketing go, effective prospect management is arguably the simplest and most powerful strategy of all.

What is “prospect management”?

Effective prospect management can be described as all the activities that lead to increased sales and customer satisfaction.

Think of it as your first date with a customer that will define their view of your business – forever.

A “prospect” is a person (who is not currently a customer) that made contact with your business via any channel – to inquire about your products or services. Prospects should be treated like your most important client – because they might become exactly that: if not as individuals, then certainly as a group.

Management“, is the recording and reporting of significant moments in the relationship between you and a prospect, followed by timeous and effective action on the recorded information.

Getting started with effective prospect management

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure” is a cliché. It’s called a cliché because it is often repeated, it’s often repeated because it is true.

With that, here is our quick-start guide for effective prospect management:

First, choose a tool to help you manage prospect information. You can use a pen and paper, or a spreadsheet, but tools made for the purpose can save a lot of time (and sales). Here are some tools to get you running immediately:

Introduction to prospect management terms often used

Agent” is any customer service representative or third-party communications contractor.

Sales Supervisor” is the agent in charge of sales performance management and reporting.

Management” is the process of providing service to these prospects with the aim to convert the prospect into a customer.

Prospect List” is a formalised list of all prospect contacts, recorded in the company CRM database or a shared spreadsheet.

Deploying a prospect management system in your business

An effective Prospect Management system is intended to bring efficiency, predictability, and accountability to the organisation’s sales efforts – by ensuring appropriate actions and engagements are thoughtfully planned and executed in a timely manner.

Key performance standards

You have to define (and document as a “Standard Operating Procedure”) your own key performance standards, we recommend these at a minimum:

  • Acknowledge customer contact within 24 hours.
  • Satisfy all customer information requirements within 72 hours.
  • Record accurate customer interaction data for business intelligence and future follow-up.

Scope & Audience

All customer service representatives and agents exposed to the first contact with a prospective new customer should be familiar with the Prospect Management Standard Operating Procedure.

Prerequisites for agents

  • Acceptable telephone and email communications skills in the languages your prospects prefer.
  • Training or skills to add information the company CRM database or shared spreadsheet.

Responsibilities of agents

  • All client-facing agents should take responsibility to record new prospect contacts and interactions.
  • Work delegation is to be handled by the Sales Supervisor.
  • The assigned agent will be responsible for prospect contact and further relationship management.

Effective Prospect Management procedure

1. Record new prospect

The first agent in line to help or interact with a new prospect should collect and record the prospect’s contact information including point of origin (or first contact) along with the prospect’s information interest as soon as possible.

Recommended fields for Prospect List database:

  • Contact: Name, Surname, Email, Phone
  • Source: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Direct Call, etc.
  • Interest: Product information, Quote, Technical assistance, etc.
  • Status: Call(1), Email(2), Follow up(3), Revive prospect(4), Done(5)
  • Quote: Amount Quoted, Unique quote ID (include a link to document)
  • Sale: Sale value, Unique invoice ID (include a link to document)

2. Assign

Sales Supervisor to routinely check the Prospect List and assign an Agent to contact new prospects where an action is pending.

3. Satisfy information requirement

Attending agent to call the prospect and learn more about information requirement, field questions, and thank prospect for her time.

4. Send additional information

Attending agent to send an email after finalizing the initial call that summarizes the telephone conversation and includes detailed information sources for further action.

5. Update status

Attending agent to update the prospect’s status to the next phase of contact in the Prospect List.

6. Send follow-up email after 48 hours

Sales Supervisor or Agent to follow up prospect after 48 hours with a courtesy note:

Hello #name#

This is a courtesy note to make sure you have all the information you requested. Please let me know if you need any further assistance?

ABC Widgets
+27 11 222 3333

7. Attempt to revive the prospect

If no response has been received after 72 hours, the attending agent is advised to contact the prospect directly (phone call) to ensure:

  • The Prospect’s information request was satisfied.
  • Find out how you can assist any further.
  • Determine the reason (objection) preventing the prospect from doing business at this time.

Information gathered during this phase should be documented in the Prospect List.

8. Review performance

Review the data on a monthly basis and identify areas for improvement with the aim to increase individual agents’ sales performance and success rate.