Life in the world of sales and marketing is a passing parade. At anytime there are a small percentage of potential customers ready to do business with you, and a bigger percentage of customers who are interested in buying what you sell but are not yet committed to any particular vendor. There is an even bigger group who has needs, but is not yet interested. Many of these might become interested if they were educated about how your product or service can help them solve problems they recognize.

Most salespeople, quite rightly, try to focus their attention onfinding the few people who are ready to buy, but in the processmeet countless people who fall into the other categories. Oftenthese names go into a database only to be ignored, or worse stillare discarded.

Remember. Each one represents someone who is potentially interestedin your products or services. This group can represent one of themost valuable but often the most under leveraged asset in your business.

Think of your market like a peach tree. There are some ripefruit that are ready to be picked, and you should do your best topick every one. But what about the rest of the peaches? Youknow that with careful attention, pruning, watering, spraying andfertilizing every peach will ripen and can be harvested at the appropriatetime. It is just the same with marketing, but what most firms do,is leave it to the sales team to pick whatever fruit is ripe. Thesalesperson picks the few ripe ones and then leaves for greenerpastures. The next salesperson who comes along picks a few new onesas they ripen and also leaves. And so it continues. Very few businessesfocus any attention on the prospects that aren’t ready to buy.

Most salespeople have a sense that some of the people they meet along the way, will buy sometime, so they set up either a tickler file or a reminder in their contact manager. Every now and again they phone the prospect to find out if they are ready. This kind of call is not only ineffective most of the time; it is down right annoying, as it seldom adds any value. Who among us has time for the regular, “Are you ready yet call”? Few salespeople ever use the opportunity to nurture the customer with useful information.Instead they simply become commercial pests.

Business  Marketing Pros know that eventually almost every prospect will ripen and decide to buy. They need education, encouragement,advice and guidance. If you do a good job of this you can pick everyone instead of a few. Use smart marketing to continue to ripen these customers, and to guard against them going to the competition.Offer them special educational reports, give them ideas on how to improve their business, invite them to seminars and workshops, and give them free audio CDs. When they ripen they will let you know,as they will see you as the logical choice and that is when you can send your salespeople back in to close the sale. It is much cheaper and more effective to have salespeople focus on qualified customers,than continuously foraging for new leads.