Sales prospecting is a lot like exercise.
The issue, of course, comes down to discipline. To enjoy that pipeline full of fresh, qualified sales leads later, we have to do some things that might be inconvenient or uncomfortable today.
The good news, however, is that the discipline you need to prospect isn't as hard as you might think. Here's how you can fix your prospecting problems virtually overnight.
First, set aside one day per week for prospecting. This might be the hardest part of the process, since it's going to feel unnatural at first, and there’ll be lots of other issues clamoring for your attention. But, unless the office is burning down behind you, put them aside for the day.
What you’ll get in return is eight or nine uninterrupted hours devoted to generating new leads and sales opportunities.
Honor the time you’ve set. Don’t give in to the temptation to schedule over it when business feels too busy. Seclude yourself from interruption and focus on prospecting.
Spend some of this time cold calling, networking and email prospecting. Sellers love networking events because they get face-to-face with potential prospects. While networking might give you good leads, it often doesn't produce the volume you need to hit your sales goals.
Once a month use a portion of your prospecting time for networking, then reserve the rest for phone calls and email prospecting.
Always have a list of prospects you want to call or follow up with. You may have met them at a networking event, gotten their names from a trade show, or simply have a list pulled from Netprospex.
On your prospecting day, call and email prospects from your list. Over time you’ll find that these contacts add a steady flow of fresh, new opportunities to your pipeline and expand your client base.
Contact lost prospects! I often wish there was a way to calculate the value of the missed opportunities that got away, only to never be followed up on again. Sellers are sometimes hesitant to reconnect with potential clients who didn't bite, but they can be a massive source of future income.
Think about it this way. How long did you spend deliberating on your last major purchase? And would you necessarily make the same decision next time?
Your lost prospects are the same way. Things change. Sometimes projects don’t go as expected. Their businesses evolve and grow.
Unless you burned the bridge by being rude or unprofessional with a lost prospect, this could be a hidden goldmine for you. Follow up with these contacts at least every six months.
Take advantage of your Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) software. That means both learning it and using it.
Just as it's incredibly important that you follow up on prospects that got away, you'll want to remember the details of what you talked with them about in the past, not to mention how long ago it was that you touched base.
It builds confidence when you can tell a prospect that you last spoke in March right before their cruise, and then ask about the trip. You have solid information you can use to restart the conversation.
It isn’t a cold call.
It’s a follow-up and your CRM allows you to differentiate yourself from other sellers because you took a moment to note that tidbit about your prospect.
Note bits of information like the cruise and their business situation. Schedule your next follow-up. Then monitor your CRM to see what calls you need to make.
Make your prospecting follow-up calls on your scheduled prospecting day. After all, these are your prospects. When your scheduled prospecting day rolls around, you have a list of people you’ve spoken to in the past combined with new contacts to call.
It does take some discipline to get your prospecting effort moving. But if you can get started and stick with it, you'll begin to see new accounts flowing in faster than you'd imagine – and that's bound to make your sales life a lot easier.
Written by Kendra Lee