How much prospecting do you do for your business? This is something that is often overlooked by businesses, sometimes we just make excuses or sometime we have a fear – a sort of fear of failure, or “I'm not good enough." Prospecting does not always give you instant results, which is sometimes another reason people don't like to do it. Some people don't think they need to prospect because they have the illusion that their product or service "sells itself!”
What most sales people fail to realize, is that prospecting is the key that will create new business and turn your successful job into a successful career. Think of prospecting like exercise. Prospecting takes time, it takes discipline and it takes consistency. You must be willing to stick with it to see the results; it is not something you do overnight. Think of prospecting as a muscle that takes time to strengthen, but only if you do the work and are willing to move past your comfort zone.
There are some rules you can follow that will help you prospect more attractively
1. Be proactive
Most people prospect when sales are down and you need to get out there when you need the business, but leaving prospecting to these times leaves you in an uncomfortable position. You should be prospecting when sales are up, even when your business is doing incredibly well. This will keep your business steady and consistent. No one will want to do busters with you when they sense you are desperate, when your business is not doing so well, however when your business is doing well you will come through positively, people will want to work with you. They can sense it. To make prospecting part of your routine you need to set goals for yourself; “what are you going to achieve this week, this month?” Even more importantly "how."
Follow up with everyone you meet, don't expect them to call you when they want something. Think of it from the customer’s point of view, you may not be that popular, they don't really know you. Follow-up and set an appointment for when you can meet again and build on your relationship. An important part of follow-up is doing what you say, so if you have promised the customer to do something soon, such as send them some information, then do it straight away. The best sales people already have all the information they need, so that as soon as they have seen the customer they can selected the appropriate information, put it in an envelop and send it to them right away. Think what the customer is going to think when they get the information so quickly. The customer is going to think that you keep your promises. You are building a relationship and setting yourself up for the sale.
Another idea for a follow-up is to send them something in relation to the sale you had, they might have mentioned they had an interest in something, such as an iPad -- do a search on Google and send them a good article about the iPad -- "Hey, I was on the Internet and read this article and thought you would enjoy it,” or if it is something printed in a magazine it will be even more powerful if received in the mail. This not only helps you build rapport but also shows that you listen. Do be careful at how much personal stuff you send, you don't want to be perceived as a stalker, trust me on that.
Focus on high percentage opportunities. Focus your energy on prospects that you've qualified.
Ask yourself if their business needs align themselves with your solutions? If not then don't waste your time. In todays changing economy it is important to focus on results and not just activity, so focus your energy on prospects that you know are a good fit. Watch out however that you do not focus on just the one prospect because you think that this prospect would be the million dollar deal to the extent that you ignore everything else. You need to be able to adopt according to what works and what doesn't.
4. Think long term
Don't think just of today. 80% of sales are closed after the 5th meeting. The statistic might not be true but don't try to rush the sale through on the first meeting.
Have you ever met someone for the first time and they immediately try and sell you something? I think everyone has experienced this. How did you feel about that person? Most likely you will not buy from such a person became of the way they approached you, their personal sense of urgency. That is exactly what you need to avoid. Think of prospecting not as an instant sale but making connections, building relationships with people rather than instant gratification.
Prospect with the mindset of how can I help you to build your business. You are exchanging information about who you are, what you do and how you help people and hope that you are going to be able to help them out in the future by offering them a solution. Maybe it will not even be you but your solution may be to connect them with someone else who can help them build their business. Either way you are planting seeds, the seeds to future sales.
5. Create reciprocal value
Become a valued resource. You can do this by becoming a connector, connecting them with someone who can offer them a solution to their problem. It may not be you, but being a connector shows you have a long term mentality about building relationship, which may one day bring a reciprocal value to your brand
6. Be remarkable
Stand out from the crowd. What makes you special or different from the competition? This is where your personal brand and brand statement comes in. Use the information you gathered from the ''researching prospects" section to help you differentiate yourself.
Like everything else in life, your success relies on your consistency and your discipline and if you don't have both you will never achieve long terms sustainable results.
So take the right actions that you are learning. Start prospecting successfully so you can start turning prospects into loyal customers.
7. Measure your results
With any good prospecting you need to learn how to measure your progress and your results. These measurements will not only help you to learn from your successes but also your failures so you can become fantastic at prospecting, and help you reach realistic goals for the future. Here is what you have to do.
- You have to track.
- You have to measure.
- You have to benchmark your progress.
A good time frame to start with is 90 days. It’s about the time it takes to see if you get any results from a sales cycle. For each contact you make you can track and measure the following,
- How many times have you followed up before the sale?
- Have you made the sale or not?
- What reasons caused you to make the sale or not make the sale?
- What did prospects that did buy from you have in common?
- What did prospects have in common that did not buy from you?
- Measure the time you spend on each prospect comparing that with prospects you had a legitimate opportunity with. For example, the next meeting and the time you spend or follow up calls.
- Are you making too many calls without any results? Ask yourself why?
- Don't make excesses, find out the why.
- Are you prioritizing your prospect calls - the important calls verses what happened after the important calls we made?
- Are the calls getting warmer each time you speak to them or did they move to a lower priority because they got a little colder and you are not really sure. What is the real reason?
- Did a relationship develop and if so how?
Once you are able to go back and analyze, to look at the information that you are going to track and analyze, you will have the best practice benchmarks. You are going to know what you are doing right and what you need to improve on. But you better be honest with yourself because as you continue the cycle for the next 90 days, you review and adjust your benchmarks based on the broader information that you have now.
Looking back in time you are going to be able to see your successes, see yourself improve and I know that will serve as motivation for you to stay disciplined to prospecting.
Whatever your personal production is today is really a result of your prospecting 90 days ago.
The days at just waiting for the phone to ring and taking the orders and cashing our checks are gone.
The good news is that your competition is probably focused on the state at the economy - making excuses for why they cannot do it. If you’re disciplined for just 90 days you or going to go past them and you are going to become what is called the "superstar" at selling. As you get better you are going to see that your pipeline remains filled with prospects and sales are going to improve but more importantly, you are building for your future.