Top Tips For Prospecting In Sales
By Mark Blezard
For me, prospecting is the best part of selling, more so than closing a new deal. This is at odds with many sales executives, so I'm going to try and share why and, perhaps, enhance a few executives on the way.
There are two things that you must consider when prospecting. Firstly, where you look, and secondly, what you use as 'bait'. Both are important but the latter probably more so. Dig in the right areas without a great proposition will always lead to failure.
Let's deal with 'where you look' first. Clearly, knocking on doors is not an option right now. And, in actual fact, if there is one thing we can thank the pandemic for is that we've all been pressed to look a little harder for leads. The current situation has meant that we've had to sharpen our tools when it comes to identifying the right spots.
Digging up the wrong leads is disastrous, as this chap amply demonstrates. Not only is it a waste of prospecting time, if you start working the leads you'll be wasting sales time. So, here's tip number one. List your top 20 clients and start to draw up a profile that covers both their personal and business traits. For example, their needs, habits, problems, solution requirements. And personally, age, lifestyle, hobbies, etc., etc.
What we are trying to do here is find two or three common denominators that will lead you towards a focus group, perhaps a LinkedIn forum, or website membership. In other words, just because you sell springs to the car industry does not mean that you can only prospect from the A to Z of Car Manufacturers. If you identify a common lifestyle pattern, take a look at the groups and forums in these areas. You might be surprised.
My second tip for 'where to prospect' comes from a former post of mine, product diversification. Write down all the sectors you currently sell to and note the applications. Then put some good thought into new applications. Automotive springs simply means they have passed automotive manufacturing standards. It does not mean they must only be sold in this sector. Could they be sold to gym equipment manufacturers? Industrial machine manufacturers...?
Now, for me, the fun part. And this is why I love prospecting – creativity. This is doubly important in our current market situation. Why? Because everyone has been frantically digging in the same spaces, LinkedIn, e-blasts, webinars, Instagram, direct-mail, blah, blah, blah. And, unfortunately, a lot of it is boring, badly written, samey-samey, rubbish.
Look, it is great that we are all trying. We have to do the above right now as we've lost the ability to walk an exhibition, attend conferences, and knock on doors. However, it is soul destroying when no one responds. So, one word – bait.
Prospecting should be fun. Don't miss the fun!
If you've taken my advice above, and you are now fishing in fresh ponds, you'll still be wasting your time if your bait sucks. If your emails read, "I trust this email finds you well? Did you get the chance to read my last email..." – pack up your rod and go home!
So, this is where you need to be focused, creative, and different. Here's my top tips for 'baiting the hook.'
Creativity. Emails do not have to be text only. Add an image. LinkedIn posts do not have to be static, use a video. First impressions count, so in a time when it is less likely to be your dress and haircut, work whatever is the first 'touch-point.'
Research. When you dig up a lead, research them. Read their LinkedIn profile, check out the website, read their customer reviews. If you know what their customers like, you'll know what is important to your prospect. Can you add to their 'likes?'
Personal. Keep touch-points as personal as possible. Reference what you've found out in your research, prove that you are worth engaging with.
Colour and humour. Make your introductions bright and cheery. Be professional but a human too. Everyone likes a chuckle, so if you find a way of adding humour to the problem you can solve, use it! Think of someone turning pages in an old black & white photo album and then, finally, they find the first colour photograph. That needs to be you!
Focus. Instead of 'hoping someone you've never met before is well,' get to the point. "If you are struggling with X, I can help. Give me 5 minutes and I'll show you how I can make it a Y." Don't try and pre-sell your service, just get to the point of how life could be if they take your call. Think, 'what's their pain and what's my cure?'
Measurement. If something is working well – milk it. However, document your progress so that as it starts to taper off you notice it. Failure to do this will result in your return to base camp one. Always allocate 5-10% of your prospecting time to new initiatives. New waters with new bait. This is the fun part!
So, there you have it. Hopefully, some new ideas? Because, if you are not enjoying prospecting in sales you are doing something wrong. Or, perhaps, a better way to put it is that you are missing some fun!