The “First Down” Method: Turn More Leads into Appointments and Sales

Some opportunities are sales-ready. Others simply aren’t. It can try your patience, and leave you feeling lost about what to do next.

So how do you continue to build a relationship with those prospects? How can you move them toward buying when they don’t want to be “sold”? 

We’ve got a trick you can use to help move prospects through your sales funnel without losing patience (or worse yet, sales).

It’s called the First Down Method, and here’s how it works:

Imagine you’re a football coach.

It’s the beginning of the game.

It’s first down, and your team has the ball on your own 20 yard line. You’ve got 80 yards to go, and a whole game ahead of you.

What play do you call?

(Hint: it’s definitely NOT a hail mary. Nice try Dan Marino.)

You go for a short gain. Going for a touchdown would be an extremely low-percentage play. A first down gives you a better chance to build momentum and score. So you move the ball gradually down the field, selecting plays designed for your specific situation.

It’s the same in sales. Use well-conceived, well-executed tactics to move your prospect toward the next stage of the buying journey:

First Down #1: Get Your Prospect to Click Your Email

Email marketing allows you to measure your prospect’s interest level.

Here’s how to craft an email that gets your prospect in the game:

  • Create a compelling offer (something of value to your prospect like a free guide, e-book, or tip sheet).
  • Make your offer relevant to your prospect's problems, challenges, or priorities.
  • Craft an email, written from your prospect’s point of view.

Include a strong subject line and finish with a clear, singular call-to-action.

Get an email click-through or a form-fill? First down, you. 

First Down #2: Get Your Prospect on the Phone

Use your list of prospects from form-fills, referrals, networking, or other database resources. The quality of your list has the biggest effect on the success of your calling.

Now it’s time to dial up a well-executed cold call with tactics like these:

  • Don’t waste time researching every company on your list, if your list includes more than 5 or 10 prospects. Wait until you set the appointment.
  • Segment your list to research categories of similarly situated prospects. Make sure you understand the basic needs and challenges facing bankers, manufacturing firms, etc. 
  • Don’t make it your goal to set an appointment with every company you call. Instead, aim to set as many appointments as possible with any good prospect willing to meet with you.

Now you’re ready to plow through that list, and make quality connections with good prospects.

Boom. Another first down.

First Down #3: Set an Appointment

You’ve moved the ball to midfield. The end zone looks a lot closer, so it’s tempting to go deep. But it’s still a long shot.

Instead, try these tactics:

  • Once you connect with a good prospect on the phone, resist the temptation to sell your products and services. 
  • Instead, sell your prospect on the value of an appointment with you.
  • Let your prospects know that you’re familiar with their priorities, challenges, and frustrations. Demonstrate that you will share related insights, experiences and ideas.
  • Frame the meeting as an opportunity to exchange mutually beneficial ideas, no strings attached or commitments required.
  • Entice your prospect with the benefits of picking your brain for free advice or new ideas.

If you do, your chances to set the appointment will increase dramatically. 

First Down #4: Move the Process Forward

Now you’re in a position to score, so work your sales process:

  • Even if you don’t go for the end zone, make it your goal to move the process forward—and improve your position—in any way you can.
  • Gather information with respectful questions and additional research.
  • Continue to identify and minimize any risks your prospect may feel from changing the status quo and doing business with you.
  • Explain, quantify, and maximize your prospect’s return on investment. 
  • Review your prospect’s buying process. Make sure all the stakeholders have been considered and addressed.

Each step gets you closer to a...

Touchdown (Sale)!

Or maybe you kicked a field goal (gained a referral, agreed on a trial, arranged a follow-up). Or maybe you failed to score at all.

And that’s okay. You’re not going to score every time down the field.

Whatever happens, you know you put yourself in the best position to close the deal by adopting a smart, methodical, high-percentage strategy and using proven tactics for executing it successfully.

So even if you don’t score a...

...you can at least give yourself a…