Carefully narrow your list of potential targets. It may make it easier to closely define your target market so you can get in their heads and make some key assumptions about which prospects are low-hanging fruit for what you are offering.
Be sure to ask lots of questions as you interact with potential customers — what you glean from those conversations could have sweeping impact on what you sell and how you offer it. Who knows? By probing persistently you may identify a whole new opportunity you hadn’t previously seen. And this may lead to all sorts of new prospects for you to go after.
Ways to identify prospects include using useful services like Hoovers, buying lists (mail or e-mail), asking for referrals and recommendations from contacts and existing accounts (see below), scanning the media, etc.
Lean on Loyals for Referrals
Don’t be shy about asking your current clients for names and numbers of their contacts who may buy what you’re selling. It’s a lot easier to reach out to prospects provided by someone whose name you can drop than to cold-call complete strangers.
To get past the awkwardness of asking your current customers for referrals, start by asking about their satisfaction level with your service and product. If you get a good response, tell them you’d appreciate any names of people who might also like to know about the benefits of your business.
Another great way to tap your loyal customers for referrals is to ask them to rate your business in the StartupNation Marketplace. Create a free StartupNation Marketplace listing to promote your business, and then ask your happy customers to put their satisfaction in writing by rating your listing. A high rating could go a long way towards attracting new customers browsing for your type of product or service in the Marketplace.
Create a Strong Pitch
Your pitch should be something you have in your every fiber of your sales being. It’s the first, and potentially last, impression; the goal is to make it the beginning of an opportunity. But remember, there’s a fine line between crafting a memorized pitch and delivering what sounds like a canned speech.
To avoid that, know your product’s benefits up, down and sideways; express your passion freely; know when to mention special offers that might trigger emotions or “pain points” (also called “solution selling”) that lead to more intense interest. Also, understand how your product differs from the competition’s and be prepared to address those attributes. Generally, it’s important not to cast your competitors in a negative light, but to cast your business in a positive one.
As you can see, you do have to drill the information into your head, but you also have to tailor each pitch to fit the individual at the plate. In the case of selling to a consumer, you can easily see how an 80-year-old will be interested in different features than a 21-year-old, and an affluent middle-aged man will want to know different things than a struggling single mom. A similar spread of profiles may exist in your business-to-business selling efforts, so tailor there as well. Just treat each customer as an individual and be able to show them how the product fits their individual needs.
One very important pitching tip: If you’re asked a question and don’t have the answer, it’s much smarter to admit it, and promise to find out and circle back at a later time. This does two things. First, it builds trust that you have integrity, and second, it gives you a great excuse to make a follow-up call and keep the dialogue going.