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how important is prospect cultivation to you?

Mar 1, 2008
A lead follow-up plan is only as good as it's ability to convert prospects to actual clients. That's why any business without strong prospect cultivation techniques isn't likely to go far. Sure they may be able to generate tons of leads for themselves, but really, what's the point if they can't convert them to clients?

Prospect cultivation isn't hard at all. It just involves treating leads like human beings and not being too pushy. It means building a trusting relationship with them and becoming known to them as an expert in your field that they can rely on. It's important, when following up with leads, to send them information relating to your products and services that they may be interested in.

For example, a real estate agent may have 10 prospective seller leads they are cultivating. Rather than contacting the leads all the time asking if they are ready to list their home, an agent may want to send them weekly emails with pertinent information, such as tips for raising home value, a checklist "Open House" tips as well as bi-weekly updates on the market and their home value.

The agent comes across more as a helpful expert than a pushy salesperson - THAT is what prospect cultivation is about. You build up trust and a relationship with each lead. Every company should have a follow-up plan for each type of lead they have (prospective client, past customer, etc) and fine-tune that plan down to a science.

One thing that can throw a wrench in prospect cultivation efforts is the sheer number of leads to follow up with. For a company dealing with hundreds of thousands of leads, a systematic plan is a must. Sales people can't just randomly contact leads with no rhyme or reason.

Luckily, that's where a beautiful thing called technology comes in - automated follow-up software to be exact. Otherwise known as a customer relationship manager (CRM) or contact management system (CMS) these programs can help manage and automate your follow up. This helps cut down on confusion and time-wasting on your sales floor.

Most CRM/CMS's provide email campaigns - a series of pre-written emails that go out weekly or bi-weekly over a period of time on different topics the lead may be interested in. Many of these campaigns will also schedule in phone calls once or twice a month to the lead as monthly 'touch points' to ensure the lead receives the information. Consistent and persistent follow-up is TRUE prospect cultivation.

A CRM provides many other features as well, and many can be built to a company's specifications depending on what features are most important to their particular plan of follow-up. The surprising fact is most companies today are totally unaware of what a CRM system is, and just how much time and money it can save them on follow-up. All in all, strong prospect cultivation tactics is one aspect of marketing many companies miss the mark on.
About the Author
The author, Ashley Lichty is a content developer and SEO at ProspectMX.com. Get more information on prospect cultivation, lead generation and other topics from her website.
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