Sales prospecting is something that can turn a merely adequate salesperson into a great salesperson, and it is totally underrated. Just for the record, let’s define sales prospecting as ‘finding people to buy from you’ or ‘finding people to help’. While this process is not ‘sales’ it is closely related and if you are interested in increasing sales, then you should get good at it.
The best way to improve sales performance is to work on prospecting. Realistically, how can you expect to sell more without having more prospects to sell to? Prospecting sales is not something to be done when everything else is taken care of. It should take a priority in your weekly routine. I know prospecting is the ‘employee evaluation’ of the sales world and no one likes doing it, but it is also a proven way to increase sales.
There can be no prospecting without first gathering some data. Here are a few places to begin your search.
Business directories – Dun and Bradstreet, Reference USA, etc.
Business and trade associations
Networking and referral groups
Chamber of Commerce directories
Social Networking – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Internet search – everything can be found online
As you consider how to incorporate these into your prospecting routine, consider the following and prioritize accordingly:
Being referred from a currently satisfied and loyal customer is by far the best of these. You are walking into a very friendly environment in this case. If you can secure referrals from your current customer base, you’ll find yourself well ahead of the competition.
Any lead generation you can secure from your networking and referral groups are the next best prospects.
Business and trade organizations are the next best things to prospect from. Then go to the business directories.
Sales Lead Management Software can also help to keep your contacts and prospects organized. It will also make sure you don’t get distracted and forget to follow up. Of course, the software is only as good as the person using it. It can’t input the information for you.
Initially, you will need to determine who does the business decision making, meaning who can actually pull the trigger and buy what you are selling. Don’t waste time working on someone that cannot make decisions.
Scripts Are Helpful
Using a script while contacting any of these prospects is a good idea. That doesn’t mean you begin reading from it when they answer the phone and respond to their comments from the script. A good sales script, or prospecting script, should simply be a strong framework from which to prompt questions or discussion.
A good prospecting script can also be a test-bed for trying out different approaches or asking different questions. Find out what works best and always be trying out new ideas. Keep in mind that you should be so familiar with your script that it never sounds like you are reading from it.
If you are really going to increase sales, think about what your prospect will object to – and have an answer at the ready. Don’t be cocky, just casually point out that they may have bad information, or have been misled, etc.
Also decide if you will leave a message if you cannot talk to your prospect immediately. If you leave a message, be prepared with what to say.
Remember, you are not trying to actually sell anything at this point. You are simply trying to gather information and set up an appointment. The appointment should be made as soon as possible. Your prospect is being sought after by many other salespeople and if you wait too long, you could miss out.
The Numbers Game
Just like in sales, rejection will happen. Maybe a lot. Realize that it takes X amount of No’s to get the Yes. So get out there and find your No’s! Its the only way find more Yes’s! Your improved sales will be prove the validity of this argument.