Leave a Trace (Issue 499)

In which we are reminded to leave a trace or a trail for our prospects so they can find us when they want to talk to us.

“So, how can I reach this guy?”

It was a simple enough question. I was completely dumfounded.

About two years ago, I received an unsolicited email and a phone call from a guy selling a product that, every morning, pushed information to clients’ employees computers to remind them about certain key points and test them. A very cool application, a mental “drop and give me 25” every morning.

I spoke with him and put him off – neither my company nor my clients’ companies were, I thought, in a position to deploy the tool. After a few months, he emailed me and called me again. Same answer. Round three, a few months after that; again, same answer.

But, his idea stuck with me, and I started to talk about it with my clients, describing the benefits and talking about how the tool could help them with campaigns, strategy deployment, compliance, and other issues. They expressed interest and I had several good conversations with them about the possibilities.

Then, one day, one of them said, “I really like this idea, so, how can I reach this guy?”

I could not find a shred of information in my normally good notes. (This has something to do with my driving over my previous lap top computer and squashing it, but not everything. Maybe it was the move to new office space. Or, over-enthusiastic end-of-year purging of files.) Not a shred.

I’m a Google power-user. I can usually find dog-eared dollar bills in gnats’ back pockets half a continent away. Could not find him.

So, sure, sure, I’m in the sales business, and I know that, after a while, we “give up” on prospects who consistently decline our approaches and our ideas. We put them in “deep sleep” mode, thinking we might come back to them a few weeks after our first heart attack when we’ve nothing else to do.

However (and, if you’re out there and recognize yourself in this column, PLEASE call me), sometimes change takes a while and, in the words of a friend, “if they’re still breathing, they’re still a prospect.”

The technology at our fingertips makes it possible to “deep sleep” someone and touch them with little or no effort. Like, how much trouble would it be, after a “no” or “not now” to write an email, put it on delayed delivery for six months or a year out, and forget about it. Or, even write two or three of them, spaced at 6 to 9 month intervals? Something as simple as…

“Dear Fred, when we spoke on February 8, we discussed the benefits of our Sand-Pounder to maintain employee morale during organizational change efforts. At the time, you thought it was premature. How have things changed in the last six months? Would a conversation now be helpful? For a reminder, click here.´ My contact information is below.”

No, that’s not a blazing example of direct mail wizardry. And there’s no need. If we put important “key words” in the email, our prospects (even if it’s not time yet) will be able to find our note when they search for it on their computers. I have been through my computer trying every key word I thought might be remotely related to the Mystery Guy who called me…. Nada.

Make it easy for our clients to retrieve our information when they need it. Keep touching. Use memorable key words in the messages.

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