By the time a rep calls a potential buyer, their agenda may already be pretty full.

Not just full for that day. For the rest of the week -- with limited availability even over the following month or longer.

This is one of the reasons purchasing cycles can be extremely long in some cases, and why sales teams have to be extra creative in finding ways to follow up with a customer or prospect without seeming like they’re reached “stalker” territory.

Reps may occasionally be discouraged by the prospect or customer who greets their attempts at outreach with complete and utter silence. Maybe even worse, though, is the customer or prospect who makes a very minimal response -- the ones who claim they’d like to chat but they’re just too busy to meet in person or even to hear a pitch over the phone.

Teams that use CRM tools such as Sales Cloud know that regardless of the response, tracking all outreach and the outcome is critical to build their pipeline and ramp up opportunities. In the end, though, you need to find a way to engage with a potential buyer directly, no matter how hectic their schedule.

Here are a handful of ideas that might be gentle but helpful enough to grab the busiest clients’ attention:

1. Filter And Summarize All The Information They Need

A strong sales force is always backed up by sales enablement content or content marketing assets that help make the connection between what the company is offering and the biggest pain points or interest in their target market. With a really busy buyer, however, even the most compelling asset might seem too much to wade through in between their meetings.

Reps can deal with this by acting as a sort of editor on behalf of their customers and prospects. Slice and dice like this:

  • Take the executive summary and/or conclusion of your best eBook or white paper and condense it into the top three bullet points that show why the buyer should take notice.
  • Do the same thing with a webinar or video tutorial -- aim for the brevity you’d see for a movie listing.
  • Make your own, personalized version of an e-mail newsletter by writing a specific headline about your best three blog posts based on why they should read it.

In all these cases you’ll still want to maintain all the relevant links and calls to action, but the point here is to just get the buyer interested enough to move things forward. Even if they read nothing further and ask you for more details, you’ve scored a victory.

2. Make A Video For An Audience Of One

If you’ve ever used social tools like Instagram Stories, you’ll see why it’s become so popular to produce clips that are little more than 15 seconds in length. They can have surprisingly high impact -- maybe because audiences know they’re not investing a ton of time to watch them. Here’s what your “Sales Story” could look like:

  • An image of a recent article that reflects the pain point the buyer is experiencing
  • A quick zoom over a written case study of a customer in their industry (or even better, an edit of a video case study)
  • A camera pan over an infographic with the most convincing stats that drive conversions with other customers

These kinds of videos can be simple and fun, but make sure they seem designed for the recipient rather than something you’re blasting out to your entire database.

3. Tag Them (Appropriately) In Social Media

If you’re dealing with buyers who are active on things like Twitter or LinkedIn, there are easy ways to make sure the content you’re creating or sharing gets in their “notifications” feed. On Twitter, just add their name with the “@” symbol in front of it. On LinkedIn, if they’re a connection, you can just start typing it at the end of a post (where LinkedIn says “Who would be interested in this?”). A few guidelines:

  • Use this tactic sparingly -- probably no more than once or twice a year. Otherwise they might block you or remove you as a connection.
  • Relevancy here needs to be high -- the post will not only be seen by the person you’re tagging but your entire network. You’re practically asking for them to “like” or comment on what you’ve posted or shared.
  • Be careful about tagging several people at once. You don’t want this to look like a new form of spam.

4. Propose A Mobile Meetup

The old-school approach to sales has been to focus on getting a live session with a buyer -- even if the majority of their research and purchase process now happens online. Just as sales reps have moved away to a world where they’re desk-bound to one where they manage much of their information via smartphone, their customers and prospects are behaving in much the same way.

Using apps, for instance, reps can easily walk through a pitch desk, conduct a demo and show video content that can be delivered wherever a buyer happens to be. If you can prove that they could get the gift of the offer while they’re in a taxi on route to the airport, for instance, or while they’re at a conference waiting for a keynote to begin, they may allow you the window of opportunity you need.

5. Use Analytics To Organize The Optimal Outreach

Here’s the thing about busy people -- they never seem to have a dull moment. In fact, though, long-term study of purchase habits will begin to show exactly how often a rep has to engage with a customer or prospect before they’ll make enough time to learn more about various products and services.

The problem is, most sales teams aren’t equipped to do this kind of study on top of everything else. When you apply artificial intelligence (AI) tools such as Salesforce Einstein to CRM, however, the data reps have been feeding about one buyer is stitched together with information about many of their peers. This creates a far more holistic picture about what it takes to get in front of busy people.

The end result is you may get their attention sooner -- or at least have a more realistic timeline to manage the process amid all your other opportunities.