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Sunday, March 31, 2013

How to Move Prospects through the Sales Cycle and Convert them into Campers Even when They're Guarded From the Outset

"We're getting lots of camper leads, but having trouble converting them into paying customers."

I hear this complaint often from camp marketers all the time.

Even more troubling, many folks say they lose touch with prospects after the initial contact is made. (The obvious reason why that's bad is because many prospects require a lengthy sales-cycle process, meaning you need to connect with them many times before they warm up to you or they're ready to make a decision about signing up for camp. So if you're having issues reconnecting with prospects after the initial  time, that's a big strike against you.)

Here's how to fix this.

The first thing is, you need a PLAN - a strategy - for handling every phone call, email and personal contact with prospects from the outset. You need to decide what you're trying to accomplish EVERY TIME you connect with someone.

It's similar to what I tell my kids when they're in the on-deck circle before stepping up to the plate on their Little League Baseball team: For every at-bat, you need a plan. The plan needs refining every pitch. If you step up to the plate without a plan, and don't make proper adjustments to what the pitcher's doing, you won't max-out your hitting opportunity.

And summer camp marketing is about maximizing opportunities! 

Personally, I have two-part plan for handling initial prospect contacts and moving them through the sales cycle.

First, I want to get as much of their personal contact info as possible (email in particular, then home address, phone number, kids ages, how they heard about my camp, etc.).

And then my primary goal becomes getting them to take a live, in-person tour my campsite WITH their kids. I have several beach camp sites, all of them beautiful, and as soon as a parent or child sees it, they're pretty much hooked.

So these are the two main things I try doing doing the first time anyone expresses interest in my camp. Of course, it's not always that easy. Sometimes people are non-committal, or seem disinterested, or don't want to visit the site, or don't seem very trusting from the outset.

So here's what I do.I take a much easier approach making it virtually impossible for them to say no.

I give them a free resource they can take away -- something they can read, download, view, own, or attend.  This is an EXTREMELY effective approach especially if your prospect's hesitant to even give you their email address or any other contact info, let alone set an appointment to see your camp.

If you offer them something of value, they're immediately on your good side. By "something of value," here's some ideas of what you can do:

1. Invite them to a free "anti-bullying seminar" at your camp next week.
2. Invite them to a free "community swimming session" in your pool or lake (but only for members of your VIP email club, so you get their email) during non-camp hours.
3. Invite them to your CPR certification course, only for moms, next month at your facility. (You need their home address to send them their free tickets.)
4. Offer to email them secret link for a "sneak peak" into your new camp video. (The video won't be available to general public for another month or two, but it's available to them right now -- you just need their email address to send them the link)
5. Invite them to download your free report, "Top 10 Ways to Save Money on Summer Camp" (or something like that...but you need an email address to send it to them)
6. Give them a couple free coupons to the toy store down the street...(but get their address so you can send them the coupons and their phone number to follow up with them just to make sure the coupons arrived before the expiration date.)

See how effective this approach can be? These strategies are the number one way to open a pressure-free dialogue with people and stay in contact with them after the initial contact is made so you can move them further down the sales cycle.

When someone sounds standoffish, hesitant, uninterested (by the way, you can ALWAYS get a person who at first seems uninterested to ask for more info about your program), or even when they say, "let me think about it," try some of the ideas above. They work!