YingYangTo be successful in sales one has to understand that selling is comprised of two separate, yet equally important, set of skills. The first part is prospecting. This is the searching, hunting, looking, calling, emailing, uncovering, detecting, observing and locating prospective new customers. The second part is relationship building, connecting, understanding, empathizing, helping, solving, overcoming, pitching, and closing to convert prospect to customer.
Much like in football or baseball in order to ensure victory, both defense and offense must be successfully executed. In order to be successful in sales one has to be highly proficient in both. Some are better prospectors, and some are better closers. It is human nature to play to ones natural strengths.
In this post I will cover prospecting. Personally I think it is the more important of the two. Without qualified prospects, one will have no one to close. Prospecting can be difficult, boring, tedious, and down right frustrating. Here are a few tips to make prospecting not only more enjoyable, but easier.
First, make a plan. If ones product or service is not industry specific or covers more then one or two industries, break it down by verticals and spend a week or a month on one, then move to another. Same with geography. Break it down by zip code, county, or state. Contact all possible prospects in those defined categories until they are exhausted.
Second, locate, accumulate and verify data. Who are you contacting? Who is the decision-maker(s) within the organization? What is the best way to contact them? This type of data can be bought, built or borrowed. How you create or acquire this data is not as important as what you do with it. That means have a system in place to manage all of the data. Either some sort of CRM (which there are hundreds to choose from), or something simpler like a spreadsheet. It always amazes me when I work with companies or business owners and I ask what do you have in place to manage your leads, invariably I hear; “uhhh….well I have a box full of 3×5 cards” or “nothing”. The data collected as one prospects becomes extremely valuable. So collect it, and cherish it.
Third. Think of different ways to prospect. What does that mean? Sometimes your prospective customers are in very unusual places. For example, if you sell a product or service that is designed for law firms or attorneys, go to where attorneys are. Almost all large companies, and even some smaller ones, have in-house counsels. Target those companies that not outsource their legal needs. Same with products or services that are designed for health-care. Many organizations have internal health departments such as colleges and universities.
Fourth. Go to where your prospects are. If you are a staffing firm, it might be a good idea to troll job postings on-line. Those companies that continually hire, might be in need of those types of services. Find the need and go to it, instead of waiting for those in need to find you.
So if you are one of those that does not enjoy prospecting, shake it up a bit. Get out and walk through some doors, call some old customers and ask them for a little help. The longer one prospects, the deeper ones sales funnel becomes, which in turn makes those closings even more enjoyable.
Good Luck and Good Selling!
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