So you’ve identified a list of potential customers who you know will be ready to buy at some point, if not straight away. They’re happy to talk and you know there is an opportunity there. Here are three actions that make all the difference in ensuring that when the customer does pick up the phone, it’s you that they call:

1. Learn

Build a relationship with the customer where you learn all about their business, their issues, needs and challenges. When you understand these, spend more time thinking and researching how your prospect could more easily address these issues.

In getting to know the prospect, have some knowledge of two or three business issues that affect his or her sector more widely. Ask your prospect how these issues affect his company’s strategy, operations and finances.

2. Give

Offer advice and support without jumping in with a pitch for your products and services.

Make it your aim to provide some kind of useful information every time you speak to your prospective customer. You might spot a relevant article, have access to something they need or find out something they would be interested in.

By helping the customer look at things in a new light or address things differently, you will make yourself memorable and useful and most importantly, give him or her, a sense of what it would be like to work with you.

3. Stay in touch

Each time you meet a prospect don’t leave the next meeting or phone call up in the air. Ask them what they see as sensible next steps and be guided by their preferences. Make a note in your calendar to call them and stick to it.

When you call at the agreed time try an approach like “When we spoke about xx in xx month you suggested that we pick it up around now. Is this still a good time to talk?” If they’re not ready to discuss it, reschedule the call to a time when they are.

Whenever you do speak to them it is often useful to have something relevant and interesting to say beyond discussing their purchasing decision.

Those prospects who do not buy from you immediately are likely to be able to buy from you at some point in the future. Their decision making involves gathering enough information until they are confident about making a decision.

This is where by becoming a source of useful information you can lead them towards making a buying decision.  You could invite prospects to subscribe to your newsletter or company blog and to connect with you on Twitter or LinkedIn where you highlight various topics relevant or of interest to them.