Sales prospecting often represents a very substantial obstacle to success for sales or small business people. Many new sales careers have fallen by the wayside due to the inability of salespeople to find enough new interested prospects. Further, many other sales careers have been locked in mediocrity because of the inability to acquire enough new business prospects to achieve a breakout.
Firstly let us clearly define what is meant by sales prospecting so that there can be clarity going forward as there is often overlap which causes confusion within the sales process –
“Sales prospecting is the process and activity of searching for potential new business. It is to some extent the step beyond b2b lead generation, and combines as the initial stage of any business sales cycle and involves a logical and persistent approach.”
Here are a few essentials to achieving success with sales prospecting:
- Know your products and how those products solve people’s problems. Create detailed plans to identify the pain points which are resolved with the use of your product or service. Never underestimate the fact that preparation is the key to success in any industry or skill.
- Identify your target market. Who ideally buys your products or subscribes to your services and where are those buyers located? If you can, create a prospect list of either your entire market or a manageable segment of it. If your market is too big, consider reducing it by geographic region. Bring in other aspects which you can use to breakdown your prospects so that targeting them can be a more direct and straight-forward procedure.
- Interact with the prospects in your market. Speak to, meet with, seminar with, and otherwise communicate with your prospects. If needed, attend trade shows, volunteer and civic organizations, Chamber of Commerce events, trade associations, etc. Get to know your prospects and let them get to know you. Don’t forget to use social media for this too, as an extended, informal communication channel. Twitter communication between businesses has become a common trend since 2017 and running into 2018 we are seeing more and more of it. Intending to personify business brands, creating a relatable trust and perception opposed to a more corporate, separate feeling.
- Keep track of useful qualifying information about your prospects as a part of your interaction with them. Pipedrive is a brilliant system to help you manage and document this. Seek key qualification features that match-up with the profiles of your buyers. Collect information about important follow-up dates such as contract renewals or seasonal buying preferences. Take good notes. Commit to using a contact management database and really stick to it to allow yourself to develop progress. Learn how to separate your better prospects from your more average prospects. This borderlines on lead scoring which is another interesting subject overlapping with sales prospecting. Having better qualified prospects allows for ultimate productivity from sales representatives and attention on the opportunities with the most likely chance of converting. It helps on both ends as the time is a lot freer and the time actually being used is also not wasted. This is the optimum working environment which you want in your business and it stems from the sales prospecting pipeline.
- Follow-up consistently! Be there when your prospects are interested – even when they are not, if they have not completely closed the door then there is still a chance. Engage in systematic outreach (i.e. speak with, send permission email, send direct mail, post blogs, “tweet” Twitter posts, send RSS feeds, etc. to your prospects on a regular basis). Keep your name in front of your prospects so they can easily find you when they need your help.
It is surprising to people how many times a follow up process must take place in order to convert. And the best way to realise is to think about yourself. I am sure you have been prospected and identified for particular pitches possibly within business or personal and ignored the approach. Certainly at first attempt, probably even second and maybe even third. But there will be one time, where circumstances may have changed, or the time may be more convenient to respond or hear more information. Know. Identify. Interact. Keep Track and Follow-Up.
In time, people in your market will come to know who you are and what you can do for them. By staying in touch and keeping notes, you can be close by when a prospect has a need for a product that you sell. Work your prospecting systematically and incrementally so leads emerge in a steady and manageable stream. If you can create a true prospecting “system,” it will be less apt to be inconsistent. Set up a plan for prospecting and work it hard. Master prospecting over time and you will be well on your way to sales success!