Are Your Sales Prospecting Efforts Paying Off?
Whether your prospecting for sales or gold, the goal is the same–having your efforts pay off with a hefty financial reward. Prospecting for sales, however, is a whole lot simpler. Yes, no matter how much you dread cold-calling and the possibility of rejection, by following the advice of prospecting experts, you can dramatically increase your success. No pickaxes or pans are required.
Unlike panning for gold, identifying prospects and converting them into loyal customers is not reliant on sheer luck. In fact, successful sales prospecting often occurs by adhering to a formulaic series of steps.
Know Where to Dig
Mining for gold is back-breaking work. Cold-calling prospects is stressful. In both cases, the prospector needs to conduct some research to ensure that a lead has good potential before wasting their time and effort.
“Sales Prospecting: Earning Presidents and Benjamins Faster” recommends qualifying prospects by asking five guiding questions. Do they need your product or service? Are they willing to make a purchase anytime soon? Do they have the authority to make purchasing decisions? Is your product a top priority at this current time? And, finally, can they afford your product? If they meet these qualifications, you are dealing with a highly viable prospect.
You are unlikely to find a gold deposit by merely scratching the surface. Contacting potential customers to simply “touch base” will likely prove equally fruitless. When you reach a customer, always have a purpose.
Jill Konrath, author of several books including SNAP Selling, tells Forbes that a better approach is to re-emphasize the business value by saying something like “in our previous conversation you mentioned how important it was to get going on this soon so you could realize the savings. Let’s set up a time to talk so we can get you moving forward.” The whole point of prospecting, after all, is to close the deal. Make sure that each contact takes you another step closer to this goal.
Keep a Digging Schedule
A dedicated gold-digger who adheres to a routine of prospecting will have a much higher chance of striking it rich than someone who only digs once in awhile. Sales people who follow a prospecting schedule also enjoy better results than those who do not.
No matter how much you dread this duty, it is important to make it a priority and dedicate a specified amount of time to it each and every day. The Huffington Post‘s “10 Principals for Effective Prospecting” prescribes setting goals such as assigning 30 to 40 minutes each morning to prospecting, making 100 calls each month, and conducting a weekly review of your top 20 prospects and charting your progress with them.
Develop a Digging Method
Digging for gold is an art that must be mastered. So is cold-calling. Unless you are a gifted “fly by the seat of your pants” “winging it” person, it would be wise for you to devise a script to follow. Make sure that you can succinctly explain how your product can solve a problem for the prospect and formulate patent responses to common objections. But–and this is a big but–you need to sound like you are NOT reading from a script. Use words and phrases that come naturally to you and engage in an authentic conversation. This may take practice, but it will be worth it.
Always be Digging.
Unlike the gold-digger, you can never leave your pickaxe and pan at home. When you are in the public sphere, it is important to view everyone as a potential prospect or as someone with connections to potential opportunities. Become active in organizations related to your industry. Join local business associations. Always have your business cards with you. And make a concerted effort to network whenever possible. This is a great way to accumulate referrals and, of course, hot prospects.
If you want to ensure that your prospecting efforts are rewarded with higher sales and greater financial rewards, you will need to master these tricks of the trade. After all, people rarely strike gold by accident.
What is your top prospecting secret?