The Pipeline: Curious, Desperate, Inspired?

You do have a "Pipeline" don't you? You know, the directional map of how you're going to encourage complete strangers to part with their money to buy what you're selling!

If you don't have one, you should let us know - we'll send you a picture - just pop an email to [email protected] with "Send Me The Pipeline - I'm Missing Out!" in the subject line!

You know how it is, sometimes, even when everything else seems to fit, you'll pick up a prospect that really isn't suited to you. This has happened more than once to my business in the past and it can become a frustrating waste of time and money. So, today I'm going to share with you some secrets for spotting the trouble in advance. I've categorised people in your pipeline into three types:

1. Curious
2. Desperate
3. Inspired

Just one warning. I'm generalising massively here, so only use these categories as a guide for how you operate tactically and not how you treat different people. I know and like lots of people who play curious, inspired and desperate routines at different times.

1. Curious

This type of prospect is otherwise known as the tyre kicker, wagging tail or time waster.

Although their nickname isn't exactly amorous they can still serve a useful purpose in your marketing. They are usually nice people, who are genuinely interested in what you're doing, but are VERY unlikely to buy from you.

The Risk

If you've ever wondered why some people just don't commit to buying your services, even though you've put lots of time and effort into a proposal, presentation or meeting, then you've probably fallen victim to the Curious prospect.

The curious customer will bleed you of time and intellectual property (which in business means money) in return for nothing.

The fact that they might buy is what keeps the illusion intact and enables them to extract value in return for nothing.

Variants

If they're from a large organisation, they can bleed you dry by dangling the "large-contract-big-customer" carrot in return for free information that serves their political (career) purposes. People from large organisations who only spend other people's money aren't usually aware of the effects their behaviour can have on a small business, so it's your responsibility to deal with them efficiently.

If they're an individual or running a small firm then they may just be looking for value for money (which might be limited). In this case, they'll attempt to get a lot out of you in return for their money. This is understandable, but in many cases they'll get enough information to do it themselves or to effectively direct your cheapest competitor.

Detection

It's hard to spot a well practiced curious customer because they give you all the signals that most genuinely interested prospects would.

If you have a well constructed strategy for moving people through your pipeline and certain customers get stuck with no other explanation then I'd do the following...

Call their bluff... Tell them what you've given for f'ree, explain that, in the interests of staying in profitable business, that the f'ree stuff ends now and ask them for their commitment. Their response will usually uncover their true motivation.

Tactics

You should use tactics to spot Curious customers as early as possible and allow them to fall out of your pipeline before spending too much time and money.

They talk to lots of people though, so make sure you've installed your Brand Power statement during the detection process to benefit from potential new referral business.

The golden rule is:

Once you've detected them, leave them alone.

Maybe ping them with the odd bit of info you'd like passed on and stop thinking about them.

2. Desperate

This type of prospect is usually the easiest to sell to. In fact, you're not really selling, they're buying.

Now you may be thinking... What's the problem with that - sounds like a good kind of prospect to me? And that's exactly why so many people fall into the desperate prospect's trap.

Desperate business people have genuinely got to that position because of the way they operate. They leave things to the last minute, procrastinate, make hasty decisions, forget what they said, act like a victim etc.

If you work with individuals then your whole product might be based on desperation, but this is slightly different.

The Risk

Desperate prospects usually have a problem that needs a quick fix. They're usually willing to pay but there will be some hidden rules to the exchange... You'll be expected to work beyond your usual routine for the benefit of someone else and with no other reward other than money. The money they've spent will have hurt them and you'll be considered a 'necessary evil', so the relationship will never really get off on the right foot.

You'll still get repeat business though, because they'll associate you with someone who'll jump at the last minute to get them out of a scrape. You'll be associated with the initial urgent problem you were first called in to fix. This is disruptive, dangerous and takes your eye off the ball.

Variants

I've really only touched on business people with my above descriptions. Individuals might be desperate for other reasons. The AA and RAC here in the UK make good money out of people who are desperate. But these aren't desperate in the sense I'm suggesting because they thought ahead.

If you deal with people who have phobias, health issues or bad habits then they're desperate to change. Just be careful they're not under the false belief that you have god-like powers. If they're desperate to make a change and willing to accept responsibility for it then I'd argue that they were inspired rather than desperate.

Detection

They'll leap from complete stranger to paid for your work in one step (if you still don't have the pipeline picture you're probably wondering what I'm talking about here - get the picture - [email protected] with "Send Me The Pipeline - I'm Missing Out!" in the subject line!) They'll be interested in signing contracts and getting started immediately. They may ask you to guarantee you'll be able to deliver within their time frame.

Who am I kidding? You'll spot a desperate customer from a mile off.

Tactics

If you want to be nice then just say you can't deliver to the timescale they're expecting because of other commitments (like your long term sanity). You may want to advise them on the best plan of action but they probably won't be listening anyway.

If you want to be naughty then tell them you can't help but you know someone who can... Then send them onto the competition with your compliments ;o) Hey, they don't call me Dangerous for nothing!

Desperate people are a niche though, so if you think you can make a nice profit from serving this niche then be my guest. I'd go for a high cost strategy and make sure your legal bits are watertight.

3. Inspired

I've saved the best for last.

I make a rule of only working with inspired people.

To me inspired prospects have the following traits...

* They want to make a positive change (business/life)

* They're aware of their strengths and are willing to pay for help with their weaknesses

* They believe they're responsible for achieving the change

The Risk

You do run the risk of getting carried away with inspired people and wanting to give them more than they've paid for. They'll have exciting goals and they'll talk enthusiastically about them.

Don't get sucked in to working for free though, they'll respect your rules if you state them clearly and openly.

Other than this risk, inspired clients are a pleasure. You'll be rewarded in far more ways than just monetary. You'll work on exciting projects and be given credit for the strengths you added.

Detection

Inspired people will come to you with a plan or idea and ask if you can help them. They'll be able to talk enthusiastically and articulately about their business, plans and goals. They'll ask questions in accordance with their plan and may have a clear idea about timescales.

I explicitly state in most of my communications that I only want to work with inspired people and that's usually exactly what I get. I can't really do much more than this. You'll just have to look at clients/people who have been inspired in the past and work out what it is that defined inspired to you.

Tactics

Look after inspired prospects and ping them with regular bits of info that will help them achieve their goal. Be prepared with the up-sell, on-sell and cross-sell. If it fits and they can afford it, they'll buy.

Speak Soon,

'Dangerous' Debbie Jenkins
[email protected]

(c) Copyright 2005 www.BookShaker.com

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