Prospecting as a salesperson can be difficult. You feel like you’ve reached the end of your rope and you’ve called everyone and their mother. You have the motivation to pick up the phone and call your next prospect, if only you knew who that was.
Hint: there are always more people to call. These 12 tips should get you started.
1. Earn the Right
Think about people who make up your immediate network (friends, family, co-workers). Now, think about the next concentric circle out from these people. The people in this circle know you, but not as well as those closest to you. Call these people, and ask them what you can do for them. Is there someone in their network who needs the kind of help that you can provide? Is there some information they are trying to understand that you could help them find? Earn the right to sell to these people.
2. “Houston? Are you there, Houston?”
If you sell products or services nationwide, call prospects in your hometown. Right at the beginning of the call, ask them a question about the local scene that only a local would know. This established a common bond right off the bat, and gives you a foundation on which to build.
3. Stay Fresh
Do a pull from your CRM system on 50 people you haven’t reached out to in a while. Set aside two, 30-minute time slots. Schedule one in the morning (7-7:30am) and one in the afternoon (5:30-6pm). Get through as many of the calls as you can and stop at 30 minutes, regardless of how far down the list you’ve gotten. You will use time that is usually wasted and stay top of mind with your customers.
4. Barter Time
Tell one of your colleagues that you will give her several 30-minute prospecting sprints in her territory if she is willing to give you the same in return. If you can get several of your colleagues to give you some of their 30-minute sprint time, make it fun by giving $20 to the person with the best story and $20 to the person who gets the most appointments.
5. The Lean Method of Scripting
Grab a colleague and get in a room with one phone and a whiteboard. Write the first 3 sentences of your prospecting script on the whiteboard. You make the first call using that script. Once the call is over, have your colleague make any changes that should be made to make the script tighter. Your colleague makes the next call, and you rinse and repeat. In one hour’s time, you will have the best, tightest script in the business. (And refresh your email prospecting strategy.)
6. Be Infectious
If you have a good conversation with a prospect, ask them; “This has been really helpful, and I appreciate it. Given what we just discussed, is there anyone you know who would benefit from this?” You’ll be surprised at how many people will pass you along into their network.
7. About Your Lazy Attitude...
When you close a deal, you feel great. What’s the best thing to do right after you win? Beer? Golf? Nap? No. Prospect. The best boss I ever had, Kevin Higgins, taught me this. I closed a $1.4M deal and when I gave him the good news he said; “Congrats. Now go prospect.” WTF? I didn’t want to, but I did. It’s the most productive I’ve ever been. People can feel your success. They can sense that you are on your game. So use that positive energy and go crush it.
8. Simple Simple
Look again at the words you use to introduce yourself and your company. Are there any words that are not plain language? Take them out. We think we look smart, but those big words just turn people off. It’s a conversation, not a Nobel Prize in economics.
9. Ask For Help
Reach out to the great people who have done business with you in the past two years. Say; “I’m getting ready to do some outreach to these types of potential clients. What advice can you give me about reaching these people? Any thoughts?” You will be surprised by how helpful people will be. Too often, we view prospecting as green field spadework. It doesn’t have to be. Ask, and you shall receive.
10. Ask The Next Question
One of my cold-calling mentors, Jim McAvoy, always asks the prospects who agree to a meeting; “Why did you take my call? What about the message resonated with you?” What a fantastic, simple way to find out what landed. Use it. Ask it.
11. Go Narrow
When executing your prospecting sprints, make sure to call people who are within a narrow market. This focus keeps your messaging tight and your examples relevant. Calling too wide dilutes your message and thus your effectiveness.
12. A Proper Thank You Note
When someone spends time with you on a prospecting call, send them a hand-written thank you note. Don’t send an email…that’s more like spam than a “thank you”. They will appreciate it, and they will certainly take your next call.
What is your #1 tip for prospecting? For example, if you were to tell a rookie salesperson just one prospecting strategy that has worked for you, what would it be? Share them in the comments below and send us a tweet! (@SalesEngine)
Written by Craig Wortmann. You can find him on Google + and Twitter.