How to request contact information from prospects who want to maintain their privacy

friday, 28 march of 2008

How to request contact information from prospects who want to maintain their privacy

by Trey Ryder

One way you benefit from education-based marketing is when prospects give you their names and addresses so you can send the educational materials they request.

But in today’s highly sensitized marketplace, most people hesitate to give up control of their personal information -- especially to someone they don’t know -- since the consequences could be as serious as identity theft.

All marketing is based on credibility. The more prospects trust you, the more willing they are to give you the information you need. If they don’t trust you -- or don’t feel comfortable for any reason -- they won’t likely respond to your offer.

How to build a database of prospects

1. Don’t ask for more information than you need. Prospects grow suspicious when they call your office (or fill out a form) to request your educational materials, only to learn that you also want to know whether they’re married, if they own their home, or how long they’ve lived at that address.

2. Don’t ask for a telephone number unless it’s absolutely necessary. Many people will not give you their telephone number, mostly due to the decades of abuse by phone solicitors. When you ask for their phone number, you immediately increase their blood pressure. And if you ask for both a daytime and evening phone number, they know you’re up to no good.

3. Tell your prospect exactly how you will use his information. For example, you might offer to send the requested materials and then offer to keep this prospect on your firm’s newsletter mailing list. When you ask permission to use your prospect’s name and address for these purposes, you increase your credibility. Plus, your prospect feels good, knowing that he controls how you use his name and address.

4. Reassure your prospect that you will never disclose his information to anyone outside your office for any purpose. Prospects often fear that you will sell or trade their information to third parties. When you address this issue head-on, you increase your credibility and your prospect grows more comfortable.

5. Tell your prospect how he can have his name removed from your database. Reassure him that when he asks you to drop his name, you will delete it immediately.

Here are a few circumstances you might encounter, and a few tips:

1. If you’re building an e-mail list, accept the fact that some prospects will give you only their e-mail address and nothing more. Even then, it may be a hotmail or yahoo address, which many use to give themselves an added level of protection from spammers.

2. If you’d like to capture more information, but don’t require it, label it as "optional." Explain why you want the information and how you can better serve prospects when you have it.

3. If you’re asking for information that your prospects might question, explain why you want it. For example, when someone buys a set of my seminar CDs, I need the billing address for the credit card (for my merchant provider), and the street address so UPS can deliver the CDs. Some buyers don’t know why I need this much information, so I explain why I’m asking.

4. Tell your prospects when they can expect to receive your materials. And invite them to call you if they don’t receive your materials by a certain date. This way your prospects don’t need to give you their phone number, yet you’ll know if your materials don’t arrive.

5. If you invite prospects to ask questions by e-mail, take it slow at first. After you answer their question, at least in a general sense, explain that you can be more specific with your answer if they’ll describe their situation in more detail -- or if they’ll call you on the telephone so you can discuss the matter further.

How to attract case inquiries through your web site

1. On your web site, provide enough information about you and your firm that your prospects will trust you before they start filling out the case intake form. When prospects feel as if they know you and trust you, they are more willing to answer your questions.

2. Consider using a two-step offer. Rather than asking for a lot of information at the outset, start by asking for a little. Explain that after you review their "case summary" or "introductory information," you will send them a short questionnaire asking for more facts.

When you start by asking for only a little information, your prospect sees your request as relatively quick and easy. He’s less likely to put it off because it’s too much work. When you later ask for more facts -- or invite your prospect to meet with you -- your prospect will have grown comfortable with the idea of talking with you and is likely to comply with your request.

Summary: In these days of relentless phone soliciting, spam and identity theft, prospects understandably question whether they should give out their personal information. The more you do to increase your credibility -- explain how you’ll use the information -- and help prospects grow comfortable with your requests, the more genuine, qualified inquiries you’ll attract.


© Trey Ryder

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