April 12, 2010
How to Optimize Your Prospecting for Better Results
Are you tired of endless cold calls and rejections? This method as worked for many in the past, but if you want your hard work to pay off more often and with better results, then you need to wrap your head around the principles of proper prospecting.
Prospecting is simply the process by which you spend some up front time identifying the best candidates for a sales pitch out of a list of potential clients. While there may be some hidden diamonds in the rough, for the most part you can eliminate many potential clients with some rudimentary research. You can always save the rejected prospects in a “rainy day” file if you want to make sure you didn’t miss any good ones.
This initial research prospecting takes some time up front but will greatly increase your results down the road. Would you rather cold call 1000 random businesses or 100 businesses that you pegged as having a high probability of converting to a sale? The ultimate goal here is to put your talents to work most efficiently.
How to Prospect Properly
There are many ways to whittle down your list of leads into a more manageable list of probable prospects. Here are some of the best:
Identify Qualities of Good Clients
Take a look at your best clients and see what they have in common. Look for patterns in their industries, business model and operations and then use that as a filter on your list of leads. The successful businesses in this economy often share a few basic characteristics that you can identify and capitalize on.
Now I wouldn’t go as far as stalking someone at a company you’re evaluating, but it doesn’t hurt to do a little reconnaissance on the company’s decision makers. First, find out who you’re supposed to be talking to by looking over their website or looking them up on social media sites. There is no point in wasting your time sweet-talking a tech guy when the purchasing manager does the buying.
Second, tailor each pitch according to the position and background of the lead. If they are a production manager, you’re going to want to talk about increased efficiency. Purchasing managers and buyers want to hear about how they will save money. Upper management wants to hear about how the bottom line and customer retention will be affected.
Finally, like we mentioned earlier, use the Internet to do your stalking. . .I mean “research”. In all seriousness, use the information businesses put online to your advantage. If you see a guy went to your college or roots for your sports team, bring it up and make conversation. If he likes ice fishing and you’re brother-in-law has a killer new lure, chat him up about it. In the sales process, you need every advantage you can find. Decision makers prefer doing business with someone they can relate to so find something you both have in common.
Keep close track of what you’re doing and what results these strategies earn. If you’re not seeing the results you want it’s time to reset your filters and find different prospects. Keep detailed records and compile useful stats on your success. Some numbers you may want to keep track of are closing ratio, first call-to-deal ratio, sales cycle total time, average revenue per sale and so on.
You may invest some time in the beginning on a lot of this but it sure beats fruitless cold calls. If you have the means, hire or assign someone the research work for you if you’re unable to conduct it yourself. No matter how it gets done, prospecting will help you cut down on the back ground noise and find the real winners on your lists.