Prospecting for new business is a necessity. Our sales training workshops in Vancouver, Victoria, Edmonton and Calgary always drill this into the minds of Professional Salespeople. No one ever disagrees. In fact, when I ask the question “Who prospects for new business?” everyone’s hands go up. “Now keep your hand in the air if you have a specific prospecting strategy on paper and are following it.” When I ask the second question, very few hands are left. Your discipline in creating a prospecting strategy and following it will take your sales from average to great.
Every Salesperson realizes the importance of prospecting. Every Salesperson prospects. I know that some Sales Managers and Business Owners may disagree with these two statements. They may say that if that was true, then every Salesperson would be great at new business development. Yet, we know that many of us aren’t.
In our book SHUT UP! Stop Talking and Start Making Money, panic prospecting is the #7 Mistake Most Salespeople Make. Not having a system is #10. See the connection? Feverishly prospecting after losing a few key clients and then calling up some new prospects without a strategy in place do not add up to sales success. Yet this is what so many Salespeople tend to do.
Realizing what needs to be done and then doing it on a consistent basis are two different things.
Average Salespeople versus Top Performers
Average Salespeople: Call prospects that seem to be a good fit.
Tip #1 – Top Performers: Determine the Ideal Customer Profile based on the characteristics of their champion clients.
Average Salespeople: Make calls to a few prospects and see what develops based on the results.
Tip #2 – Top Performers: Create a Target Account List based on categories of prospects that meet the Ideal Customer Profile.
Average Salespeople: Visit the prospect’s website, read the home page and a few other areas.
Tip #3 – Top Performers: After doing a complete website analysis, top performing salespeople assess each prospect’s digital footprint by searching their company name and keywords that their customers might search to find their products and services, as well as their competitors.
Average Salespeople: Talk about their latest product or service and how great it is.
Tip #4 – Top performing salespeople create individualized Valid Business Reasons (VBR) from the prospect’s perspective as to why they would want to talk with them.
Average Salespeople: Make prospecting calls and then wait to see what happens. They don’t use scripts as think they sound like they’re reading them. Instead they use conversational delivery.
Tip #5 – Top performing Salespeople create a prospecting flow chart to be prepared for how prospects will react to their delivery. They want to be ready for the typical objections like “We’re happy with our current provider” and “Send me an email”.
Average Salespeople: Prepare sales presentations and present marketing materials to back up their selling points. They try to figure out how to sell the buyer on why they should consider using them versus the competition.
Tip #6 – Top performing Salespeople create a list of Customer Needs Analysis (CNA) Questions customized to the prospect to learn their true needs. They probe to locate pain points and opportunities for a solution.
Average Salespeople: Suggest what the client should do and are ready to counter the buyer’s objections. If they can’t close the business right away – they won’t get it.
Tip #7 – Top performing Salespeople partner with the client and key people in the decision-making process for full buy-in and agreement to work together for success. They allow the client to close themselves based on the involvement of all stakeholders.
Average Salespeople: Fit prospecting in when time permits.
Tip #8 – Top performing Salespeople schedule prospecting as an appointment in their calendar and fight the urge to re-schedule it when a current client asks for the same time slot.
Average Salespeople: Think that it’s hard to predict what will happen until they encounter it. They also think the best way to start anything is simply by doing it and learning from there.
Tip #9 – Top performing Salespeople track their performance in each step of the sales cycle and make changes when required based on results.
Average Salespeople: Ask the successful Salespeople in the office for advice and prospecting tips.
Tip #10 – Top performing Salespeople leverage what they learn from the top-producing Salespeople in their office by also reading sales blogs and books on prospecting and sales technique.
Why these prospecting tips work will work for you
• Your champion clients are your best ones. They love you, your company and your products. They should be the blueprint you use to source new customers.
• Once you have the components of your Ideal Customer Profile, use them as the filter to search out potential Target Accounts that meet the criteria. Then, consider Target Account categories that align well with your champion customers and look for the leaders in each category.
• Comb through the entire website of your Target Accounts looking for gold nugget areas like Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), Our Team to see who the key decision makers are and Photo Gallery for value-add opportunities that might have great impact with causes close to the heart.
• No buyer cares about how great your products and services are. They care about what’s important to them in their role as a decision maker. Here’s hint – your VBRs should be using terms like “you” and “what you get” with few references to “we” and “what we offer.”
• Unrehearsed scripts do sound like they’re being read because they are. Top-performing Salespeople create a flow chart pattern of communication with bullet points versus complete sentences for spontaneity and a conversational delivery. They also know that “We’re happy with our current provider” and “Send me an email” are the two leading ways to get rid of Salespeople who are reaching out without the buyer’s request.
• No client wants to listen to your boring presentation full of promises and chest-beating. Asking Great Questions is the first of The 5 Success Skills of Professional Salespeople. See our online course The Sales Skills Incubator. Top-performing Salespeople ask questions to find pain and opportunity – the questions other Salespeople don’t even think of.
• People support what they help create. The ABCs of Sales have changed from Always Be Closing to Always Be Connecting – connecting with every stakeholder who is part of the decision-making process as well as those who will see the impact of using your product or service. Who wouldn’t support an idea that they were responsible for.
• Top-performing Salespeople make prospecting a priority. They know that scheduling 1 hour to prospect 8 – 10 new clients is an appointment to start working with those buyers. Do you really want to reschedule that introduction? Virtually every current client will work within your schedule.
• Sales success is a process with many steps. The final decision to buy often comes to the Salesperson who displays hard work, delayed gratification and the ability to nurture the relationship. Your ability to entice buyers to say YES is as strong as the weakest link in your sales cycle process.
• The best Salespeople in your office are a great source of education. The best Salespeople in the industry can give you insight that you never even thought of. Why not have the advantage of both?
Do you think any of these tips will help you build a better sales funnel of new prospects? Which one do you like the best? If you have any comments or additional suggestions on prospects tips, please the comments section below.
We’re always interested in hearing from our readers. Thanks!
Dave Warawa – PROSALESGUY