Prospecting is the oxygen that fuels the fire of sales.
Now, take a deep breath and grasp the full significance of that statement!
Even though most accept the fundamental truth of our opening statement, many salesmen consider prospecting to be one of the most daunting tasks. Whether it’s via phone, face-to-face or group prospecting, in-bound or outbound, retail or business-to-business, nothing gets sold until salespeople begin a conversation with potential buyers.
Prospecting isn’t the only part of selling, or even its most important part. Still, if you want to grow your business, prospecting must come first! Simply put, there is no business without prospecting.
Prospecting involves a series of sequential activities designed to:
• Identify your prospect
• Qualify your prospect
• Prioritise your prospect
On top of those broad goals, here are some tips to get the entire process right.
#1. Develop your own system. Prospecting is the first step in the sales process and it is not just cold calling. It can be used effectively to reignite dormant accounts and clients, or develop new business with existing clients. So it is essential to develop a prospecting system. Just as we develop our own individual workout to stay fit physically, you need to design a regular prospecting plan to ensure a healthy pipeline of business. Just evolve a program that works best for you.
#2. Make it a daily habit. If you have difficulty prioritizing things, you need to make sure that prospecting is on your must-do list. Otherwise, it is easy to overlook it or simply postpone it. You can do this by making it a daily habit. Do that and watch your sales grow.
#3. Conquer the fear. Many people find it hard to prospect because they have never been taught how to prospect effectively. Shed that fear. Like everything else, prospecting is a skill and can be learned. If you still have a fear of prospecting, you need to address those fears ASAP. Sustained prospecting, and the resultant practice, might be the best way to overcome that fear.
#4. It’s a numbers game. There simply are no real tricks or secrets to sales success. If 40-plus years of worldwide empirical research reveal something, it is this: A significant predictor of sales success is the number of contacts you have prospected. So, all you need to do is mine as many prospects as possible. Success simply will follow.
#5. Schedule your prospecting. There may not be a perfect way to prospect but there are a number of ways you can do this to good results. You could schedule specific times in the week or carry them out in batches 2-3 times a week. Some like to do the prospecting calls first thing in the morning and free up the rest of the day for other stuff. Ideally, one could make the prospecting calls at the same time of the day, each day of the week, too. Choose the one that is good for you.
#6. Getting the right frame of mind. Being in a good state of mind is critical when prospecting and selling. So prepare ahead of the calls and “get” into the right frame of mind. To do this, you might want to consider the time of the day you are at your best. It’s best to be clear-headed, awake and alert when you make the prospecting calls or meetings. You are less likely to have negative or self-defeating thoughts and least likely to take rejection personally. So, go ahead and pick the time that is best for you.