By: James Steadman | Category: Sales Tactics
Prospecting for new business can be a tricky and disheartening task, but it's the driving factor to filling your pipeline with leads. Here are 5 tips to keep your prospecting effective and on track, from our resident sales & marketing expert, James Steadman.
Prospecting is critical for any service based industry and is a driving factor in filling your pipeline with new leads. Without a steady stream of new leads coming into your sales funnel, you'll quickly find yourself with a significant drop in sales volume or experience the frustrating 'roller coaster' effect where sales come in waves of boom and bust.
But, it doesn't have to be this way. With proper planning and guidance, your prospecting sessions will be a hive of activity where leads are progressed along the sales funnel and ultimately many will be converted into paying customers. Read this article for 5 simple tips to explode your prospecting results.
1 - Know Your Prospect
Before writing an email, picking up the phone or stepping into a meeting, you need to know as much about your prospect as possible. This will let you tailor your message to your audience in a way they'll respond more favourably to.
Too often business owners will try to inflate their image by using overly technical words, industry jargon or methods of contact that suit themselves, rather than the prospect.
By tailoring your message to your audience, not only will you increase your chances of them actually listening to what you have to say, you'll also be increasing the trust your business builds at the same time.
Authenticity is a large part of sales, and talking the talk while you walk the walk is a sure-fire way to have prospects look your direction rather than run the other way.
Knowing key times to send emails, begin phone calls or have meetings is also a crucial element to your prospecting success. For example, if you have a seminar mid-day and your ideal customer works 9-5, you'd be hard pressed to have 10 people show up.
Using an appropriate channel of communication is also important to your prospecting success. If your prospect is in meetings most of the day, a sales call without booking in a time will be fruitless and annoying; instead, a well-timed email during the morning to arrange a call that day will be much more effective, and you can set expectations of how long a call will go for and an agenda at the same time.
2 - Have a Plan
Before you even begin your prospecting, you need to have one thing set in stone - your goal.
Without a goal, how will you know if your call was successful or not? You wont until it's too late unfortunately.
Plenty of salespeople get this one so wrong! Hanging up the phone after a pleasant sales call, only to realize later that afternoon that it wasn't actually a sales call at all because you didn't get their number or email, you didn't schedule the next time to talk, and you most certainly didn't make an appointment!
Make sure you have a clear objective with your prospecting sessions. Using SMART goal setting is an easy way to do this properly. No idea what that is, click here.
Once you have this objective, you can start thinking about the best ways to go about and achieve it. Whether that's a kick-ass script, really nailing down your objection handling, or realizing that the sales cycle is longer than you thought and you won't be able to close them on that first session, you'll be able to make a plan of attack.
3 - Block Your time
The life of a salesperson is often chaotic and unorganized: meetings, proposals, sales and after-sales service fills your day, and if you're anything like most people, it's not planned out in advance but done whenever you can find a spare minute.
It's no surprise then, to find that many salespeople just throw in prospecting when they feel like it, or when they've got no more sales in their pipeline. This is a major failure in your scheduling, and you need to get a daily routine in place so you can systemize your business effectively (but that's for another post entirely).
With regularly scheduled prospecting sessions, you're able to focus on one activity with an end goal and ensure that you have a steady stream of leads with which to convert into clients and customers.
Distractions will be kept to a minimum, because you'll only be using the tools necessary for your prospecting that day, whether that be a phone and a list of numbers, a meeting and a group of attendees or your computer and a list of emails to reply to.
If you've been in business for more than a couple of months, you'll have a general idea of when your clients prefer to be contacted. This will form the basis of when you should be scheduling these sessions in your calendar.
Doing this allows you to be more effective by using less of your time, and less of an interruption to your potential customer on the other end of the connect.
4 - Perfect Your Mindset
Prospecting is a tough gig, and it often chips away at the morale of a sales team without notice. Cold leads especially are a source of frustration and worry, even for veteran salespeople.
It's important to consider here, that the attitude of a salesperson will ultimately drive the chances of successfully progressing a lead through your sales funnel. This is an extremely important concept to remember.
Often when prospecting, you will have leads that aren't qualified or aren't suitable for your product or service. Several of these in a row can be disheartening to say the least.
But remember this:
This is so important because too often salespeople will carry the emotional baggage of the last unsuccessful sale with them into their next prospecting session.
Prospecting with this mindset puts you at a huge disadvantage; scripts will sound robotic and unenthusiastic, replies don't sound genuine and more often than not, you might start to doubt whether people want the product or service you're selling.
Think of the dull service you get from retail workers who've been working for several hours at once. If they were able to take a refresher break every 30 minutes or so, I would argue the service would change completely, and they'd find their customers respond positively to the change!
Making sure you 'wipe the slate clean' and start fresh after each lead connect will not only improve your chances at progressing a lead to a sale, but will also keep you energized and enthusiastic throughout the day.
A good idea is to have a 'Success Book' nearby, where previous clients who have expressed their thanks can be referenced to remind you that there are many leads who's lives you can change for the better.
Reading something like this before every new prospecting session realigns you with the core values of the business and lets you start fresh on every new prospecting session.
5 - Follow-up
Following up with a prospect, while such a simple concept, is often completely overlooked.
Perhaps when you contacted them initially they were too busy to be fully responsive to your offer; perhaps they were told some bad news and anything you said to them would be disregarded; perhaps they simply needed more time and were still too early in their buying cycle to make a decision.
But after a follow-up, they were free, responsive or ready to say "yes!" and go ahead. The thing is, you'll never know if you don't schedule another time to get in touch.
A good way to do this is by casually letting your prospect know after you've heard a legitimate objection that you'll be in touch X days from now around the same time, if they're still interested.
9 out of 10 times they'll either say, "that'd be great, thanks for understanding" or, "actually, I'm busy then, perhaps at 10 am on Monday would be better?".
Either way, you've got a prospect that has self-identified themselves as interested and you know that they'll be receptive to a follow-up at a set time, which makes your job converting them down your sales funnel that much easier!
A Final Word
You should now know that prospecting is a key activity towards a successful sales funnel. To quickly recap on the points above:
Follow these 5 simple tips on prospecting and you'll see your business transform dramatically. Increased prospecting can be directly attributed to increases in sales, so give it a go and see the results for yourself!
I'd really love to know what has worked for you while prospecting or what hasn't worked at all. Please leave me a comment below and give this post a share if you enjoyed it!
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I create marketing campaigns for clients around the world. No B.S. and to the point - I'll tell you how it is. I'm a copywriter and creative director at heart, but most would recognise me as a full-stack print and digital marketing expert. Want to work together? Click here.