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What Dating Has to Do With Economic Development — and How to Woo Your Prospect

Have you ever gone to a trade show, met a great prospect, and then waited… and waited…  for the phone to ring?

Maybe you sent a follow-up email, or gave them a phone call.

But… what should you do after that if they haven’t made their decision yet?

Here’s the thing: with every sales-oriented job, “closing the deal,” often doesn’t happen with one single contact. It takes time to cultivate a relationship and ultimately close the sale.

In that “dating period,” you need to have frequent contact to let your customer know that you’re still interested in their business.

Many people think the prospect will just call you if they need more information, but you actually need to be more aggressive than that.

After all, you might not understand their timeline. They might not be prepared to make a decision for months… or even years.

That’s why it’s so important to continue following up until you close the sale OR the prospect says that they’ve decided to expand in a different community.

If you DON’T follow up and cultivate the relationship, they’ll move on to the next community… who does want them.

So, what’s the right way to do that — without seeming pushy or aggressive?

How can you stay in front of them in best possible way?

The key comes down to adding value. Following up in a way that is sharing helpful information about your community, and gives them more information so they can make the best decision.

Here are three ways to follow up that will make you stand out to your prospect:

  1. Remind them about special offers going on in your community that they might be interested in.

If your prospect is interested in your community, chances are, they’d love more information to help them decide if this is where they want to locate. That’s what you can share with them when you reach out!

For example, the offer could be:

  • A new, customized training program at the local community college
  • A new office building that just came on the market
  • A new training program they might qualify for
  • A new business park that just had their first new tenant in place
  • High-speed Internet or other infrastructure has just been extended to the business park
  • Your community got recognized as being the greatest vacation destination on the East Coast (You’re living somewhere other people pay to go on vacation!)
  • A local chef or bed and breakfast has been recognized in a national travel magazine

When you have interesting news to share about your community, pick up the phone and tell them! Don’t assume they are following you. Make them want to care, and make it easy for them to learn and stay informed.

  1. Invite them to local events in the community.

A great way for them to feel a part of the community and meet other business owners or managers is to attend a local event in the community.

And a great way for you to follow up is to invite them to one!

Here are some great examples of events you could invite them to:

  • An Economic Outlook Conference
  • A Chamber of Commerce business event
  • An intimate dinner with a group of people they might like to meet
  • An annual banquet like a business awards program

Events can be a great way to form a more meaningful connection beyond an email exchange, while giving them an opportunity to experience the community firsthand!

This can obviously be sensitive (or not possible) if the prospect requires confidentiality and isn’t ready to network with other business owners. Make sure to keep any needs for confidentiality in mind before inviting prospects to local events.

  1. Add a thoughtful, personal touch.

Behind every email address is a person… Get to know who that person is, and then find ways to relate to them.

You could look them up on LinkedIn or Google them and see if you have any common ground.

You could send them a handwritten personal note and a gift from the community, like a jar of homemade jelly from your local farmer’s market.

This will help you to stand out to them and create a more meaningful connection!

Pro Tip: Make sure that your whole team is on board with a follow-up plan.

Without a plan, everyone in your office might be doing different things. You want to make sure every prospect is treated equally and you’re maximizing staff time and generating a solid return on your investment (staff time and resources).

Right now, you could be missing many prospects every day who could increase your community’s tax base, bring well-paying jobs to your residents, and prove that your organization is making an impact.

By being more proactive and creating a plan for following up with your prospects, you’ll be on the road to getting better results for your community.

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