“Never mistake activity for achievement” – John Wooden, Legendary UCLA Basketball Coach
Prospecting is separate from sales. Prospecting is discarding all the unqualified leads and retaining the qualified leads that are likely to buy your product now or in the future. Selling begins after this process is complete.
Prospecting takes time. Commit to prospecting two to eight hours every week, depending on your pipeline. Lock in that time in advance and build the rest of your schedule around those regular sessions. Work smarter, not harder – focus only on qualified leads and your sales should follow.
1. First, ask every existing satisfied client or customer for ideas on where you might find new business opportunities. Satisfied customers will often give you recommendations, leads and introductions if you ask for them.
2. Develop a pool of partners who share common prospects with you, but perform different or complementary services. Cultivate those relationships to stay “top of mind” and gain the most from your partnership.
3. Obtain a list of participants from key industry seminars, symposiums, and conferences. These participants may either be good prospects for you or they may become potential partners.
Other lead sources can include: webinars, seminars, third party reports, conferences, and podcasts. Use these tools to offer industry updates in which you can work synergistically with your partners. That way you share the cost and get access to their clients and prospects. You can also buy lists from many industry sources. They are usually harder to qualify, but you may be able to get a bigger pool of prospects.
Key criteria in qualifying your leads are: identification of decision makers, current supplier situation, their financial situation, decision timeframe, and price issues. Research every company and key executive on your target list.
Even if they’re not yet ready to buy, cultivate all long-term qualified leads. When they’re ready, they will remember that you stayed in contact and offered good solutions to their needs. You will have already gained credibility. This persistence pays off when they are ready to commit to and buy your product.
Follow Up Activities:
1. Send out key information that provides value to the prospect and demonstrates your expertise in the marketplace. Provide white papers, case studies, research reports, press releases, or invitations to trade shows. Follow up with a phone call or email to make sure they received it, and schedule a time to discuss the material.
2. Have your follow-up materials at hand and make sure you record next steps into your calendar, CRM software or contact manager.
3. Your messages and talking points should include value statements that will provoke interest or action at each level of contact you have with an organization. Be familiar with your script it so it does not sound as though you are reading it. Have responses to all the common objections posed by your potential customers. Turn them into benefits wherever possible. Take notes and record key points, so during the next call, you can recite what they said last time and show you were listening.
Work with a coach to help you plan, prepare, network and hone your skills in the area of prospecting that lead to new opportunities.
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