By Todd Smithee

So you’ve just come across a very good lead that you really felt was a good fit for your company’s product or service.  The prospective customer has a need for your offer.  You can easily cost-justify replacing their existing solution with your offer.  You might even have the perfect industry reference that will rave about your product and customer service.  So what do you do when you make the call and get told “please call me after the first of the year”?  If you are very organized, you will put a note into your calendar to call back on January 2.  If you are like most people, you will put his or her business card on the corner of your desk, where it will stay until it gets pushed into the trashcan.

Remember, leads are like seeds.  Just because you find an acorn does not mean you will have an oak tree the following day.  You need to plant the seed in fertile soil.  You need to make sure it has sufficient sunlight.  Finally, you need to make sure you water it on a regular basis.  This same process applies to your sales leads.  They need to be cared for over an extended period of time to come to fruition.

When you find a quality opportunity that fits your key criteria, remain patient and nurture it.  Stay in regular contact with your prospect.  Learn about the organization, the industry and how you can be of assistance.  Look for ways you can help your prospect do his or her job.  At some point in the future, an opportunity will present itself.  It may be that your prospect’s manager demands change.  There could be a significant service issue with their existing vendor.  Whatever the reason, it is your job to make sure that your prospect thinks of you as a solution provider.  It may take years (it once took me five), but keep the faith.  The time will eventually come and you will be well positioned to close the deal.