4 Innovative Strategies To Prospect Like a Pro
Editor’s Note: This post is part of our special 1-week series on sales prospecting, from experts on the subject.
Most sales people hate to prospect. I get it, prospecting is not exactly the most exciting part of the sales job. When you compare it to things like getting past the gatekeeper and getting a client to say yes, prospecting just does not have that much sex appeal.
However, while it may not be the most exciting part of the sales process it is the most important. Okay, important only if you want to open more doors, close more sales and get better results. So why is it so important? Prospecting by definition is the act of searching for and finding customers with the potential to buy your products and services. In essence it is the first step in your sales process, the foundation. The better you are at prospecting the more effective every step in the sales strategy you take after that will be.
So if prospecting is so important why do sales people hate to do it? Let me correct myself and say that “most” sales people hate to prospect. You know those sales people who always blow past their goals, always seem to be winning new customers and make the entire sales process look easy? Well those sales people love to prospect.
Everyone else, we don’t like the concept because I don’t think we have ever really been taught to do it and do it well. Prospecting is the part of the sales process that trainers and coaches mention but never really dive deep in how to develop the skill.
Add to that, that if you ever were taught to prospect there is a good chance the strategies and techniques you are using are out-of-date. Designed for an economy when aggressive and pushy sales tactics were not only the norm they actually worked.
In today’s world, you have to realize this economy has changed. We have literally gone through an economic shift moving out of what is known as a push economy and into what is known as a pull economy. And while I am not going to give you an Econ 101 lesson, what you do need to know and understand about today’s economy is that the consumer, your customer is in control. With so many options, they get to decide where, when and from whom they buy. Meaning the bold sales tactics of the past push our prospects away rather than attract them.
Your ability to succeed at sales is directly related to how effectively you prospect. Prospecting is a vital step in the sales process. But to prospect effectively in today’s economy you need to overhaul your prospecting strategy.
4 Innovative Strategies To Prospect Like A Pro:
1. Focus – first and foremost you need to understand who your prospect is. Here is a news flash, not everyone wants to do business with you. Here is another news flash, you do not want to do business with everyone. Getting prospecting right is about understanding who your prospect is. You need to identify who your ideal prospect is. Who those people are that are most likely to buy your products or services, pay for your products or services and refer you business. The better you understand who your ideal customer is the better you will choose your prospect. The better you choose your prospects the more prospects you will turn into customers.
2. Network – once you understand who your prospect is, then you need to find ways to connect with them. One of the biggest mistakes with networking is that I see professionals attending events, connecting with people who are not their ideal prospect. In other words, once you know who your prospect is, you need to choose events and networking opportunities that put you in the direct line of your idea prospect. Prospecting is not an instant gratification game. It takes time, lots of relationship building and lots of networking. To network effectively, you need to invest the time in networking, choose the right events, and capitalizing on the opportunity to better and more deeply qualify your prospects.
3. Dig Deeper – putting down names and creating a list is not prospecting it is list building. Deciding who your prospect is the first step in the prospecting process. If you want to prospect efficiently you need to dig deeper. You have to qualify your prospects, and prospect from a position of power. Digging deeper is about networking effectively, and using that time to ask questions that help you to better understand your potential prospect. Using a set of qualifying questions that help you determine if they meet “your qualifications” for doing business with you. Asking things like what their challenges are? What geographic regions they serve? Who their customer is? And how decisions are made? When we dig deeper in the networking process, we further qualify our candidates and make our prospecting efforts in even more effective.
4. Add Value – last but not least we need to proactively add value. In other words, we need to invest in our prospects before we ask them to invest in us. That may sound counterintuitive but this is a world where customers are in control. We need to understand that the only reason our prospects do business with us (they can buy the products and services anywhere) is because they know like and trust us. In other words, they see value in establishing a relationship with us, and in working with us. If you want to turn your prospects into customers, then you need to focus on adding value to their businesses before you ask them to add value to yours.
Yes, prospecting is a vital step in the sales process. To succeed, we have had to change our sales strategies to compete in today’s economy and that includes our approach to prospecting. Use these four innovative ideas to reinvigorate your approach to prospecting, and you will put yourself in a position to succeed no matter what this economy does!