In our last blog we discussed the importance of sales planning for your sales team in order to achieve your company’s sales goals. Planning is how you strategize your battle. The next step is implementation. Unfortunately, not all sales tasks are handshakes and closing deals. Many involve putting in effort with cold (or warm) calling and doing it consistently. This is true of prospecting. In this blog we will talk about what sales prospecting is and give our tips on how to prospect.
What Is Sales Prospecting?
Prospecting is seeking out new customers. They are the prospects. The word “prospect” comes from the Latin word prospectus, meaning “sight” or “distant view.” The pro- prefix means “forward.” So the English word contains a sense of looking into the future. It also has another meaning in English – to explore for gold or precious minerals. The original San Francisco 49ers panned for gold in the American River during the Gold Rush. They went out day after day and sifted through dredged dirt looking for something precious.
Did you know that people are still prospecting for gold in California some 173 years later? That’s dedication!
In business, your customers are your gold, and, unfortunately, like gold, you don’t often walk out your front door and trip over them. Sometimes salespeople have lucky opportunities, yes, but the most successful ones make their own luck with hard work. That means increasing your base of potential customers and working to nurture them into becoming regular customers.
Prospecting isn’t easy. Many sales representatives will say that it’s the toughest part of the job. But in order to keep a pipeline of leads going, you have to do it. If you do it correctly and consistently, you will increase both your conversion rates and your closing rates.
How Do You Prospect?
Today’s buyers have more tools at their disposal to do research about the products and services they need. They will read reviews online to try to determine whether they should make a purchase. However, even as they are taking charge of the process, they are not averse to engaging with salespeople. If you meet them early enough in the process, you can influence their decision making process. So how do you meet them?
Perhaps the most important part of prospecting is determining who your customers are. If you put in all the time in the world with people who have no need or interest in your products or services, you’re not going to increase your sales. So do a deep dive on who your ideal customer is and then tailor your sales pitch and script to appeal to that type of person.
While seasoned salespeople will tell you that selling from a script is not the best way, you should know what you are selling and what you’re going to say ahead of time. Don’t read from a script but know your pitch backwards and forwards and modify it as the situation dictates.
Talk to your prospects, getting to know them and their needs. You will be able to make better recommendations if you do, and they will grow to trust you more. Positioning yourself as a thought leader or expert in your field can be key. This means knowing your products or services and your industry so well that you will be able to answer any questions they have with knowledge and confidence.
From there you can work on your call list. You will have multiple lists, depending on how “warm” your leads are. Keep in contact with these people, checking in with them and ascertaining if their needs have changed and if you can help. This should be one of your daily tasks.
There are other ways to check in with your prospects besides the traditional telephone call. We are in the digital age, after all. Some of these methods include:
- Sending personalized emails
- Building your social media presence online
- Giving additional information to your prospects based on their stated needs
- Using video to present information and position yourself as an expert
- Hosting a webinar
- Networking at social or professional events
- Asking for referrals from satisfied customers
Put in the Time Prospecting
The other important aspect of prospecting is consistency. Sales representatives who block out time in their schedule to prospect every day and stick to that schedule will have more “luck” with prospecting. This is a commitment you need to take seriously.
Following up on previous contact is also essential. It’s rare that you will achieve a sale immediately. Usually the process requires more work, including sending follow-up emails, making phone calls, or sharing more information. Following up is proof to your customers that you are committed, trustworthy, and open to building a relationship with them. People buy from people they like, and they can’t like you if they don’t know you.
If you are interested in learning more about how to improve the sales process at your company and increase your conversions and actual sales, Prometis Partners can help you with that. We would love to learn more about your situation and your needs, so contact us today.