All businesses start as suspects until they become prospects, then leads, then clients. A shotgun approach to marketing can be demoralizing. Why? Because a lot of effort goes into connecting with potential clients, and if there is no strategy, the return is low yet the work load high.

Think about the last five prospects you have met with. Did you get in front of them all in the same way? Perhaps one called in from your website, another was a referral from a friends, or a meeting at a networking function, response to direct mail letter or an appointment scheduled by a telemarketer. It doesnt matter which channel you use to obtain your prospect, what really matters if whether they became a client.

We can spend literally hours with curious and inquisitive business owners who seem genuinely interested in our services yet never move forward. Ask yourself why these relationships didnt pan out? What qualifications did these so-called prospects display? Did they seem to have all the time in the world? Did they have specific goals and objectives and most importantly what type of questions did they ask? Most serious and successful business owners spend their time with employees, peers and clients not vendors. When they do spend time with vendors they usually have questions not about how to do something but what they can expect you to do for them as it relates to their business objectives.

Ironically, prospecting can be a positive experience but only If you think about it in terms of elimination rather than opening the floodgates. The key is to reduce the list of prospects to those most likely to be converted to clients. By eliminating your list of suspects and reducing your list only to prospects, you have a greater chance of acquiring a new account sooner with more efficiency.

Identifying prospects that are more likely to invest into interactive marketing services will go a long way to increasing your closing ratio. Set a goal of one good client per month.

Having realistic expectations will help you separate the wheat from the chaff in a more organized and timesaving manner.

A higher hit rate increases your confidence and reduces discouragement. Carefully look over your list and determine who needs your services, who can afford your services, then focus and engage these companies. If you do your job right, you will be able to offer the right services to the right businesses that are ready to advance their company.

Follow these 5 steps to get started:

1.Define Your Target Industries: Winnow it down to those that both have money to spend on your services and are likely to buy those services.

2.Define the Target Job Title: Make sure you are working toward a relationship with the right individual (the decision-maker) within a targeted company.

3.Create Your Suspect List: If you have one already, then eliminate these entries from your prospect list.

4.Craft Your Message: Understand the target industry issues, or problems that keep the prospect awake at night but which your services can solve; Is it lead generation, increased conversation ratios, increased sales, automation, etc.?

5.Lay the Groundwork: Get your carefully crafted message in front of the suspects at least two or three times before having the telemarketing company call or before you call. The message can be communicated via email, letter, mailer, print advertisement, networking function presentation, trade show, etc. Priming the prospects makes them warm up to the idea of using your services before you set your foot in the doo

Denise Maling is responsible for achieving AIS Media’s sales and customer support objectives. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Marketing and an Associates degree in merchandising. Denise possesses a strong background in sales, sales management, sales training, and customer service.