This is the life-blood of your business. There are many avenues to prospecting, web and in-print advertising, direct mail, telemarketing, expositions, and cold-calling by sales reps. What many business owners don’t realize is that as you progress through each of those just listed, the cost-per-contact becomes greater.
In most cases, salespeople are needed to consummate the sale. But, doesn’t it make sense to increase the likelihood of closing sales by “softening” the prospective clients up by building name recognition and credibility by utilizing the other prospecting/marketing methods as well? Enough said about building a well-balanced marketing plan for now. Let’s get into some simple rules for what most people think about when they think of prospecting.
As stated before, know who it is you need to meet with. I have worked with hundreds of sales people and many of them come from the mindset that all they need to do is set enough appointments with enough people and they will get sales. And, that’s true. As the saying goes, “A blind hog will route up an ear of corn every once in a while.”
It is an exhausting and discouraging way of doing business. No wonder so many salespeople don’t meet their quotas and don’t last long in sales. By targeting the prospecting efforts on people that have a high likelihood of wanting and being able to buy, you will have good time management and a great conversion rate.
Preparation. Know the person and the company you’re contacting. Do you know what is happening with the company you’re about to contact? Are they being bought by another company or are they buying another company? Are their profits going up, or are they going down? Are there any significant things happening that are on their website or in the news or Internet? What about the person you’re wanting to contact? Are they new to the company? Have they recently received a promotion? Is there any information about them in Facebook or other community websites?
Have a script. Too many people think they know their product so well that they will just “wing it”. They never say the same thing twice, so they never know what works, and doesn’t work, when they are prospecting and setting appointments. I’m not saying to be a robot. Be conversational, but have a base of wording that you share each and every time so that you have consistency. Also, keep track anytime you make a change to your basic verbiage.
If, on Monday morning, you started using a new word, or words, in your script, document it. If you see that you are getting better results, then continue to use the new verbiage. If the results are worse than before you starting using the new verbiage, obviously you’ll want to go back to using the verbiage you were before.
Again, don’t change things up so often that you can’t tell what works well. Give a new twist about two weeks before changing again, unless you see your results falling off fast. If that’s the case, go back to “home” immediately!
Have a goal. Prospecting is usually the least glamorous and least favorite activity for salespeople. It’s like running on the treadmill. If you don’t set a goal for the amount of time you WILL stay on it, then you’ll quit as soon as the first gasp of air comes or you start to hurt. Depending on the business and the length of the sales cycle, I recommend adding at least 5 to 30 NEW prospects each day.
So, what this means is that you’re not going home, you’re not leaving your desk, you’re not having dinner…until you have those NEW prospects. The same applies to setting appointments. Have a goal for each day or week for the number of NEW appointments you will set. By doing this, you’ll not fall into the up-and-down cycle of business and income that so many sales and business people do.
Use a good CRM. With as much effort that it takes to prospect, you want to make sure that you capture the results of your work. Not just the appointments you’ve set, but those that aren’t prospects for now, and those that will never be prospects. Duplication of your, or your sales peoples’ efforts, is costly. Take time to analyze the information in your CRM on a weekly basis. I like to do ratios of contacts:appointments, appointments:sales, dollars:sales, and dollars:contacts. This way you can track yourself or your salespeople on how effective you or they are being. You should see an ever increasing trend of effectiveness.
At the first sign of stagnation or reversal, you need to find out what is happening so you can immediately correct it. By the way, tracking the dollars:contacts is a great motivating tool. With that information, you exactly how much it means to you in revenue every time a person is contacted. So, if you know you make $1000 every time you talk to a person, whether they buy or not, that keeps you and your sales team motivated to prospect!