Author’s Note: August 12 is a big day for me. Scribner will publish my new book, Hot Prospects: The Proven Prospecting System to Ramp Up Your Sales Career. I am pleased to present some excerpts.
From Chapter 5Lead Classification by Temperature
Now let’s talk about classifying prospects
If I say the term hot prospect, you have a pretty good idea what I mean.
It’s what you live for, right? Well, if there is a hot prospect, there’s certainly a cold one. Surely there are gradations in between.
So we’re going to use the idea of a thermometer to guide us in our prospect classification.
Let’s define a prospect as someone who has responded to a lead generation campaign or who has been referred to you and with whom you would like to do business.
Here’s another important term: track.
Track refers to the sequence of actions taken when you get a new prospect or when you upgrade or downgrade one.
We will use an ABCDE classification system, where each letter stands for a category of prospect. ABCDE are designations you can easily use in any database to track, sort, and prioritize prospects.
PROSPECT THERMOMETERThere are five categories of prospect, which you will meet shortly. Each has a place on your prospect thermometer. Additionally, there are people in your database who are no longer prospects because they bought your product and became clients. Let’s just say that clients have a temperature of 212?F.
At the very bottom of our scale are ill-tempered folk we wouldn’t accept as clients for any amount of money. Their temperature is -459.67?F — absolute zero.
We’re interested in what’s in between.
A hot prospect is 150?F.
At 0?F, you will find people who have no interest whatsoever. They cannot even be called prospects according to our definition. They are what I like to refer to as pits.
Between 0?F and 150?F are three other prospect types: red cherries at 120?F, green cherries at 90?F, and info leads at 60?F.
Let’s start at the top of the thermometer and work our way down.
THE HOT PROSPECTA hot prospect is a decision-maker (or on the team) who is very interested and willing to begin the sales process.
Appointment = hot. A hot prospect is not quite ready to buy, so the water’s not boiling yet. The temperature is up there, but it will take a skilled salesperson to further heat the prospect to boiling.
No appointment = not hot. There is a way of testing the water to see if someone who might be a hot prospect really is.
For example, let’s say you sell accounting software for dentists.
You are talking to a prospect, Dr. Phil D. Payne, D.D.S. He is a referral from another dentist. You believe you may have a hot prospect.
The Test to See if theCharacteristic is True
Interested enough to begin the sales process
Sets an appointment, preferably in person or by phone. Setting an appointment is the test of whether they are interested enough to be classified as hot.
Comes out in conversation by research, or by asking directly.
Verified by asking directly.
YOU: Dr. Payne, I recommend we get together in your office. I’ll demonstrate our software to your staff and answer any questions you may have. In that way we can see if our program and your needs are a good fit. I have a spot open Thursday afternoon at two. Would that work for you?
DR. PAYNE: That would be fine.
Good. Hot prospect.
Now what are you going to do with him? Well, take a peek at your cheat sheet. Look at the section called “Track.” This is how you will handle all hot prospects.
But what if he’s not hot? Instead of agreeing to the appointment, suppose the conversation takes this turn:
DR. PAYNE: You know, Mary Jane, I really need to think this over.
Can you call me in a week or two?
Let’s pause this conversation for a second.
We tested to see if Dr. Payne is hot. In this example, he is clearly not.
To find out if you have a hot prospect, verify financial and decisionmaking qualifications and then ask for the appointment.
No appointment = not hot.
But he’s not cold, either.
What is he? Let’s do another test.
YOU: Dr. Payne, let me ask you one quick question. What is the one thing you most want to improve in the way you manage the finances for your practice?
DR. PAYNE: I want to be able to get data to my accountant early in the year so tax preparation is not a last-minute emergency.
YOU: We have a white paper called “Instant Tax Reporting.” It will explain how to have the data ready for your C.P.A. by January 15. If I send that to you, and if you like what you read, would we have a basis to continue this conversation?
DR. PAYNE: Absolutely.
Let’s run this conversation one more time, this time as if you were an Old Way practitioner.
First of all, as an Old Way salesperson, you would never have volunteered to send anything to a prospect.
In your training, you had this gem drummed into your head:
You mail, you fail.
You mail, you fail.