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How to Reach Disengaged Prospects and Clients

“How do I engage with busy or disengaged prospects who don’t yet see why they should be talking to me?”

It’s the heartfelt cry of many involved in new business development. It’s also a real issue for those trying to re-engage with lapsed or low-contact customers.

We all know that cold calling is a pretty inefficient and ineffective numbers game. The figures are there to back up the experience: 90 percent of buyers say they don’t take calls from unknown callers. The latest figure I saw was that it takes 18 calls to get a live contact with a new buyer and from my experience, even that is pretty good going.

However, in a low-growth economy, we need new customers and innovative offerings to generate a share of mind, a share of wallet, a share of the market. Here is a practical way to make this work for you.

Start with the end in mind

All too often our posts and shares are a bit random. Or if they’re planned they are often focused on what WE want to tell the world. Instead, start with the end in mind. Here are some practical steps that my Execus colleague Jonathan Whiteman shared with me, and which I shared in the first session of Closing the Loop in London. The group really liked it, and I hope you will too.

The first steps

Write out your list of disengaged prospects or clients. Of those, determine who you want to contact within four to six weeks. Let’s assume that in week five and six you’d like to be meeting (face-to-face or virtually) 10 to 15 prospects. Let’s also assume that you have been applying sensible selection criteria form your side to ensure you are focussed on the most attractive opportunities for you. Now ask yourself a few customer-centric questions:

  • “Why would Jo want to hear from me?”
  • “What is going on in Alex’s business that makes our offering relevant?”
  • “Is Pat at the point in the buying cycle where the business is looking at ideas or beginning to identify potential suppliers?”
  • “What conversations have I had with Sam that could be re-kindled to create engagement?”

You’ll probably find that you’ll be able to group your prospects into three or four groups who need similar messages.  Now plan for your six-week cycle:

business development playbook for professional services


A disciplined cycle

Week 1: Two communications to your sub-groups. The first could be a personal -mail or text saying you’ve been thinking of them and you’ll be sending them a few links to relevant ideas. The second could be a relevant post that you write with the target audience in mind, or which you draw down from company posts. Then send the post link to your chosen targets.

  • Week 2: Another two communications—another post and a share of something you think they’d find useful.
  • Week 3: Another three communications—another post and a share of something you think they’d find useful. Then an email or text saying you’ll be in touch in the following week.
  • Week 4: Phone to make an appointment for weeks five and six. Now instead of these being cold calls you have established relevance and begun relationship before you call.
  • Weeks 5 and 6: Follow-up calls if needed and conduct meetings.

This may work for your business as something in which you or your business development specialist carries out the whole process. Or you may split the roles between marketing, inside sales and field sales or you may sub-contract the content to someone like House of Content and then calling on someone like Chartered Developments to create a regular pattern.

This approach works best if you create a disciplined, regular pattern rather than sporadic one-off pushes. If you want to attend five new business meetings a week, you’ll probably need to be calling 25 people, so if you are on a six-week cycle, you’ll need an active target list of 6×25 = 150. You’ll need to do the maths to work out the right figures for you based on considerations such as new business targets, lead-time, size of the market, resource availability, etc.


This featured article on how to reach disengaged prospects and clients comes to us from our partner experts at SalesLevers.

Richard Higham_Sales Levers
Richard Higham, Executive Director at SalesLevers

Built on decades of experience, SalesLevers transforms sales performance for companies that want to survive and thrive in a changing world. Through an integrated approach spanning diagnostics and development to reinforcement and recalibration, SalesLevers is known for delivering real results and consistently creating value for clients around the world, from multinationals to startups. Based in London, SalesLevers has offices in Scotland and Yorkshire. To learn more, visit saleslevers.com.

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