You've been calling on a prospect for more than two years. Suddenly, he getsready to buy, and he doesn't even call you to give you a chance. He buys fromsomeone else. What went wrong?

I have learned this lesson: It doesn't matter how long you've been calling onprospects or how many times you've spoken to them as much as how close your lastcontact was to the point in time when they were ready to buy.

Did you ever wonder why Coke and Pepsi run ads every month of the year? Imean, who doesn't know about Coke and Pepsi? That's not the issue. Bigadvertisers like those companies have discovered that knowing about a brandisn't enough. Our decision to buy a product is also influenced by how recentlywe heard about it. The premise is this: If you go to the grocery store today tobuy cola, and you aren't a Coke or Pepsi die-hard, you are more likely to buythe brand for which you saw a TV commercial this week rather than a month ago.

It probably works the same for the product you sell. Prospects may know aboutyou and the features of your product but, all other things being equal, theywill think first of the product that was most recently visible to them.

What does this mean to you? Having called on a prospect one or more times isnot enough. You need to establish a regular contact schedule with everyimportant prospect. Visit in person when you can, with phone contacts inbetween. And between those, send a letter, brochure, article reprint orsomething else that will keep your name in the forefront of the prospect's mindat least once a month until you either close the prospect account or disqualifythe prospect.

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