In 2016, some see prospecting as antiquated. Some believe prospecting for customers and sales opportunities has not progressed much further than the days of the safety helmet with a dim light to lead the way.
Well think again, because “there can be gold in them thar hills”, as they used to say in the old western movies. Why won’t sales people prospect? Why don’t they prospect well? Many times, it is a combination of factors: a lack of proper training, procrastination, poor time management, poor phone skills, the idea that prospecting is outdated and ineffective, or simply a lack of motivation to bring out the metaphorical pick axe and other sales tools to dig for opportunities. By the way, many great opportunities may lie just below the surface of your territory. So how can you improve your prospecting gravitas?
Set goals for finding more gold.
How can you begin to take a fresh aproach to prospecting? First, set a goal. Increase your contacts and your contact base by some number to generate additional appointments. Many of our customers have found that a ten percent increase of appointments results in significant revenue increases. Much more than ten percent by the way. However, as a sales person, you must set goals to make this happen. You must set SMART goals!
Your goal should state exactly what you want to do. It should not be vague or ambiguous. What kind of prospects do you want to call? Where are they located? What are their markets? What are their positions in their companies? Be as specific as possible about the kind of customer you want to prospect.
Quantify it! How many prospecting calls do you plan to make each week? Write the number! How much time do you want to invest? Make an appointment with yourself on your calendar. Keep it!
- Action based
Do you plan to make phone calls, emails, social media posts, or on-site calls? Spell it all out. What exactly are you going to do?
Don’t over commit. Start with something small and manageable to begin. You will lose motivation quickly if you are unable to meet your goals.
When will you complete your goal? If you don’t have a deadline it’s not a goal. How many prospecting calls do you intend to make a day? A week, month or a quarter? Give yourself a deadline and stick to it.
Develop a plan. Pan for more gold.
A lot of prospecting is done via the phone. In prospecting, as in all sales situations, you must be prepared. You need to develop a plan of attack. Prior to making your calls, you must define and plan for certain key aspects. How do you generate interest with prospects? What questions should you ask to better qualify prospects in order to address their needs and determine a solution? This also holds true for email and social media.
Build a strong value-statement. You’ll hit pay dirt.
You need to develop a compelling value statement to make prospects want to engage you. This is a brief statement that identifies specific reasons why a prospect would want to do business with you. Script the statement. Practice saying the statement until it becomes natural to you. Believe in it. The more your statement differentiates you from the competition, the more likely you’ll get engagement or appointments.
Don’t be tempted by fool’s gold. Prepare for objections.
Prospects frequently have objections. You can improve your prospecting productivity if you practice your responses to the typical objections you receive. The best way to counter the objections is by asking questions. Ask questions that generate thought on the part of your customers. Ask original questions that your prospects don’t typically hear. Ask questions that help you acquire information to better determine how your product or service fits into the prospect’s sphere of influence. Then, most importantly, ask questions about their answers! Be interested first, then you will be interesting to your prospects.
Strike it rich.
Prospecting is one of the most challenging aspects of selling, however it can also be the most lucrative effort of your sales strategy. So update your prospecting skills. Get rid of the helmet and light mindset. A well applied effective prospecting strategy will make you rich!