The success of the first business contact starts by the success of the Prospecting Process
Who loves prospecting ? Nobody ! Why Prospecting is Hated ?
When you think about how important prospecting is for many in sales, you may wonder why prospecting is not the most highly anticipated sales task. But when you think about all that must go into prospecting, you begin to understand why prospecting is both disliked and often times avoided.
One of the biggest and most difficult to overcome factors when prospecting is the fear of rejection, one of the most common fears held among people. Why ? Because people simply do not want to be rejected by other people.
Another reason why prospecting is often considered a dirty word in sales is the time it takes away from other more enjoyable sales tasks, like networking, closing deals, improving your sales skills. And depending on how you conduct your prospecting, it can also be expensive to prospect.
Decide to Improve on the Inside
The first method of improvement is to decide to get better. This may seem a bit pedestrian but without first deciding to improve, you will never do what it takes to improve.
The first step to improving your prospecting is to change the way you view prospecting. If you see prospecting as a horrible way to spend an afternoon, your prospecting results will likely be poor at best. If you instead viewed prospecting as a vehicle to build your sales funnel, a way to increase your professional network or a great way to add some zeros to your bank account; your attitude and approach to prospecting will certainly change.
Don’t think about what you don’t like while prospecting, think about the new business you will get by giving useful information to other business people you get on the phone. So, if you shifted your focus away from what you dislike about the task and towards what you do like, your enthusiasm and attitude are certain to change.
To succeed with Prospecting you must first succeed finding leads
Prospecting is the first step in the sales cycle. But that doesn’t mean that the first thing you should do is grab the yellow pages and start dialling. A little pre-prospecting work will help you come up with leads that are actually compatible with your product or service. Therefore finding leads become the basic building block of sales, and it helps to have at least two or three major lead sources. This is very important because if you can’t find anyone to sell to, you’re not going to make many sales!
Identify Mr. Prospect
The first step in finding the ideal prospect is defining who that mythical person might be – all you need to do is sit down with a pen and a piece of paper and write down a list of those desirable qualities.
Choose a Strategy
Let’s say you’ve done the above exercise and determined that your ideal client is married, in his mid-thirties, has an annual income of $100,000 or more, owns his own home, and has an executive-level job. Now you can start thinking about where you would find such a person. The usual rule with lead generation, as with most aspects of sales, is that you either need to invest lots of time or lots of money to do it well.
If you decide to invest time in getting leads, that means research. For the above example of the perfect prospect, you can start by identifying the most affluent neighbourhoods in your area. Then you can prepare a sales letter and mail or hand-deliver it to those locations. Or you can simply try going door-to-door. If online sales are your forte, you can identify websites where your prospects might hang out, like the local homeowner’s association website, and buy ad space or post your information on the site. Another option is to become a member of organizations where your prospects can be found… local churches, chambers of commerce, the yacht club, the high-priced gym, etc. That gives you the opportunity to meet and greet prospects in an informal setting. Just be careful not to get too pushy or your tactics will backfire.
If you’d prefer to invest money to find leads, you can buy existing lead lists. Be careful to work with a reputable list broker, such as Register of Enterprises – otherwise you may find you’ve just wasted your money. You can also try buying leads directly from the source, such as a magazine that your prospects are likely to read. Finally, you can buy ad space in those magazines to get prospects to come to you.
Getting good leads is one crucial step to making your prospecting more efficient. If you’re cold calling a lead list where 50% of the leads are not qualified for your product, you’ve just wasted half your time. Find a better source of leads, be it through networking, buying a list from a lead broker, or doing some serious research on your own.
You have the leads, you improved your inside view of prospecting, now: ACTION
Once you have your list in front of you, you’ve got to have something valuable to say to them in order to move those leads on to the next stage of the sales cycle. At this point, you don’t need to sell them on your product – that will come later. For now, you need to sell your prospects on the value of talking with you at greater length. Your goal while prospecting is to sell the appointment, and to do that you need the same kind of tools you’ll use to sell your product – a good offer, some benefits to tempt the prospect, and the skills to present them in a way that will intrigue your prospects.
The other common prospecting mistake is giving up too quickly. Most prospects will require several contacts before they’ll agree to an appointment. Alternating your contact attempts (a phone call followed by an email or vice versa) keeps the prospect from getting annoyed by your persistence, yet gives you additional opportunities to nail down that appointment.
Very important: Make Prospecting a Daily Ritual
The best prospectors in the sales industry make a point of including some form of prospecting into every one of their business days. Even 1 hour of prospecting during a business day is better than skipping it all together. Since you’ve already decided to improve with prospecting, actually doing it everyday makes a lot of sense.
What are the 5 Myths of Sales Prospecting
Myth #1: Prospecting is sales.
This is the number one mistake made by small business owners and sales reps. Prospecting is a separate function from sales. Just as marketing is distinct from sales but closely linked.
Prospecting is simply discarding all the unqualified leads and retaining the “gold”. The job of prospecting is to find qualified leads that may buy your product. Only after this process is complete, should the selling begin.
Myth #2: Prospecting is a numbers game.
The old school of prospecting for business relies on contacting large numbers of cold contacts. However, quality supersedes quantity. You must find prospects that have a propensity and possible motive to buy your product or services.
Myth #3: Scripts are for kids.
Many sales people insist on prospecting without any script. Scripting provides the framework of a successful prospecting campaign. It allows you to test what key benefits and qualifying questions work. The script must be personalized by the individual so the presentation does not sound “canned”.
Myth #4: Prospecting takes time.
Prospecting takes only a few minutes to determine if the lead wants your benefits and can afford your company’s product or service. Don’t waste time on people unmotivated or unable to buy. Remember to focus on the “gold”.
Myth #5: Close them on the appointment.
Far too many sales reps focus on setting the appointment. “Would Friday morning or afternoon, be better for you?” Next week only 20% of appointments show. What went wrong?
Prospects will sometimes find it easier to agree to an appointment rather than saying they are not interested. If a prospect is remotely interested, then offer a much subtler approach…send them an information package. This allows you to build interest and turn the lead from warm to hot.
Sales prospecting done right can have a huge impact on your sales revenue. It doesn’t take an armour suit and great courage to deal with the fear of rejection during prospecting. Just keep an open mind to challenge the old school of sales and the myths of prospecting.
If you want more information about this subject, or want me to help you prepare a Prospection Strategy for your product/service, please feel free to contact me.
+1 515 893 0514
Grand Montréal, Québec