It's all about the buyers.
These days, sales conversations are becoming even more buyer-focused, which means modern sales reps have to get creative when it comes to how to prospect. Everyone is scrambling to develop their own hacks, techniques, and processes for prospecting in order to move prospects through the sales funnel and turn them into customers.
Most sales experts will tell you that starting conversations with prospects is the most crucial part of boosting your success in sales. But understanding the process of identifying and starting conversations with potential customers can be mystifying even if you’ve been in the game for a while.
Let's dive into the seven ways to get more sales prospects.
Why Focus On Sales Prospecting?
If you're running into sales prospecting issues, you may be falling for this trap. Many salespeople fall into the trap of not having the skills, tools, and mindset and depend solely on their daily motivation. In order to gain more meetings, at the end of the day it comes to improving your sales prospecting plans, techniques, and strategies.
By improving your prospecting you'll be able to book more sales meetings, create high-value opportunities, and improve your sales performance.
1. Consistency Counts
In order to be successful at sales, salespeople have to identify and acquire potential customers. To do so, they have to know how to open relationships. Prospecting is the art of starting new relationships. The new business opportunities that later enter into your sales pipeline are initially identified through prospecting. Prospecting is the lifeblood of sales.
The first step in improving your prospecting results is to acknowledge that the prospecting process is imperative for getting sales results and to begin to treat it accordingly. Getting more sales prospects begins with setting aside the time and the energy to prospect each and every day. That doesn’t mean once a week or every other day. I mean, each and every day. You would never suggest that your only chance to close was on Thursday afternoons, right? It is ridiculous to suggest that there is only one particular time of the week during which you can effectively identify potential customers. It’s also ridiculous to suggest that your prospects are only open to taking your calls every Monday and Friday. Prospecting, like sales, requires nuance. Sales reps must be willing to contact prospects on their terms.
Pipelines and funnels are designed to hold a constant stream and sales reps that dedicate time to regular prospecting grow faster than those who don’t. The best way to approach prospecting is to write a weekly plan that includes time to prospect each and every day. I think it’s best to set aside time first thing in the morning, while you’re fresh, to make sure it gets done before other parts of your work and life start making demands of you.
2. Turn Off the Distractions
Turn off the Internet. Turn off your email. Turn off your Smart Phone. Focus.
Tell your friends you have a newfound discipline and that you need their support; promise to catch up with them later.
Hang a sign on your door saying “Do Not Disturb! Prospecting!” If you don’t have a door, use string and hang the sign over your desk. The more seriously you take yourself and your work, the more seriously prospects will take you. If you have a lazy attitude toward prospecting, it will fall to the wayside. You’ll let other things take priority and your competitors will surpass you. It happens all the time.
3. Use Every Method Available
Prospecting is the activity of opening new relationships but don’t forget that it is also part of a larger picture. You should be focused on the outcome - identifying potential new business opportunities. There is no one method of doing this. In fact, there are dozens, and they can all be equally effective if you’re doing them right.
To prospect successfully, you need to focus your time and energy on the methods that work best for you. But that doesn’t mean you should neglect everything else. If you are great at cold calling, you should absolutely focus on cold calling. But that doesn’t mean that you should never use email marketing, inbound marketing, networking, trade shows and conferences, direct mail, social networking, or referrals. You should include all of these tools in your toolkit.
Make a list of all of the methods you can think of that are used to prospect. Plan how much time you will set aside for each method and set goals for how many prospects you want to gain from your effort. For example, you might commit to attending one networking event per month with the result that you acquire two new prospects from each networking event. Measure these results and focus on the area that generates the greatest return on your investment of time. But also keep in mind that your prospects may have their own opinion on how they prefer to be approached. The goal is always to cater to the needs of your prospect, so you want to constantly analyze and adjust your prospecting methods and the amount of time you devote to each one.
4. Write Scripts
Insufficient sales prospects usually results from one of two things. The first is spending too little time prospecting. The second is ineffective prospecting. Ineffective prospecting mostly boils down to language choices. What you say when you prospect can mean the difference between gaining or losing a lead.
That’s why sales scripts are of the utmost importance.
“But wait!” you say. “Professional sales reps can’t sound like they are using a script!” I hear you loud and clear. No one wants to talk to a robot. But sounding uninteresting to your prospect isn’t helping either.
If you are a person who is averse to using scripts for prospecting, it helps to recognize that you are already using a script. The words that you use when prospecting (and on sales calls, by the way) reflect a certain way that you have chosen to speak. They are words that are comfortable for you because you have rehearsed them. Because you have rehearsed them, you probably have them memorized. The words you use are comfortable because you know them by heart, not because you are reading them. But this doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best language choices.
You can improve your sales effectiveness by carefully choosing your words and observing what works and what doesn’t. This takes awareness, focus, and discipline. It also allows you to experiment with language choices to see what is most effective for each prospect. Just think of it as sharpening your pitch.
Write scripts for each of the prospecting methods you use. Write responses to the common objections you hear. Rehearse them. If you are part of a great sales team, do this together and rehearse them together. Commit the best language to memory and use it instead of the unwritten and ineffective scripts you are using now.
5. Focus on the Outcome
In sales, the ideal outcome of prospecting is opening a relationship. This almost always involves obtaining a commitment for an appointment.
Effectiveness in prospecting improves by focusing solely on that outcome. Don’t allow your prospecting to turn into a needs analysis, presentation, or discussion about the merits of your product or your business offerings. Maintain a laser-like focus on simply scheduling the appointment. You can deliver your presentation at your next appointment after you have gotten your prospect to commit.
Some salespeople struggle with focusing on the outcome of an appointment and slip into sales mode because they feel that they must provide proof of value during their prospecting activity. This thought process causes them to lose sight of the point of prospecting. Always remember that the goal of prospecting is to open a relationship. It is just the introduction of the possibility that can create value and accomplish something together. Selling, at this point, is premature.
There is no list to make or plan to write here. Just know that a successful outcome in prospecting is almost always an appointment. It doesn’t matter how much you liked them or how much they liked you if you don’t schedule a follow-up.
6. Get Good at Cold Calling
There is too much to write here about how to get better at cold calling. But it is important that you include this method in your repertoire, and that you build your competency in picking up the phone and scheduling an appointment.
Cold calling remains one of the fastest ways to open relationships and schedule appointments, and the very best salespeople are the very best at cold calling. Of course, they are also great at other forms of prospecting, but you should never let cold calling fall to the wayside. If you do it regularly, you’ll find that it offers the greatest return on investment. And the more you do it, the better you will become.
Start cold calling.
7. Nurture Relationships Over Time
Even when you use all of the above ideas, you are still going to hear “no.” You are going to hear it a lot, no sense kidding yourself. Remember, all relationships, including business relationships, are built over time. Your consistent and unrelenting pursuit of your dream clients is part of a longer-term plan for success, not a race to get the most immediate “yes.”
Consistency here means that your sales prospect will hear from you more than sporadically. It means they hear from you frequently and with the predictability of the rising of the morning sun, but that contact has to be meaningful. You can't just bombard your prospects with automatically-generated emails. This is not prospecting.
Your calls, your thank you cards, your letters, your white papers, your surveys, your studies, your newspaper and web clippings – all of your constant attempts to create value will add up over time.
Some of the best relationships and the biggest deals will take the longest time to win, and your consistent nurturing of these relationships will open opportunities for you over time. Your persistence proves to your prospects that you are not going to fade away like so many of your peers. It shows genuine interest in them and demonstrates your commitment to working with them. It shows that you are a professional who executes well; and that you are determined. These are the winning attributes that your prospect will look for in salespeople and partners.
Write a nurturing plan. What will you do to create value for your potential customer even before they decide to set an appointment with you? How often will you call? How often will they receive something from you? What will they receive? What will it say about you? How will it create trust? Knowing your plan ahead of time will help give you the confidence you need to achieve results.
How To Prospect: The #1 Ways To Get More Sales Prospects
Prospecting is not a science, but you can save time and maximize your quality leads by investing in the right processes, activities, and skills. Incorporate these tips into your prospecting game and you’ll be more likely to open valuable relationships and turn your sales prospects into leads over time. For tips on how to master cold calling, check out our FREE cold calling eBook How to Crush It, Kill It, and Master Cold Calling Now.