Let’s be real, prospecting is not the easiest part of working in sales— but people who are good at it could really rake in a fortune for their company and make a name for themselves.
Prospecting is the process of tying potential customers to the business and manually building connections. You’d have to go around and talk to a lot of people before you find people who are interested in what you’re offering.
Before diving into this rigorous process, sales representatives must have a list of leads gathered through intensive research. Some sales departments have a team dedicated to lead generation. For some, it can be the duty of the marketing department. For smaller outfits, sales reps could be doing it all.
Sure, it’s very tempting to just keep saying that prospecting sales is hard, but repeating it to yourself over and over gets a little draining. That’s why it’s best to keep your head in the game and have the right attitude.
Characteristics of an Effective Prospector
For one, you should be optimistic. Sure, you’ll be subjected to rejections but if you keep your goals intact and negativity at bay, you’ll find yourself succeeding in your calls.
It helps if you engage in light conversation that would make the person feel more comfortable. You can do this not only to give warmth to the call but to be relaxed as well. It’s not surprising that sometimes a call can be turned around because of a rep’s charming and positive personality.
Prospecting is also a matter of repeated methodology. You don’t just receive instructions and deliver them as they are. You have to be analytical and at the same time, instinctive.
Improve your list of prospects further by studying your interactions and develop ways and pitching structures that would make these potential customers interested. This is probably one of the most important attributes that make a good prospector great.
Focus plays a huge role in this aspect. Contrary to public advertising, less here is more. We’re trying to reach prospects within our pipeliness and from there, build solid business connections, which is why we need to narrow everything down. The broader your range is, the more likely you’ll get rejected. Talk in particulars not in generalizations.
What do you do when the prospect seems a little disinterested?
To save face, some would just politely end the conversation and move on to the next contact on their list. An effective prospector is persistent. He understands that the longer you hold the conversation, the more likely the person will respond. This response can go either way.
Now, this is certainly risky business especially since there is a fine line between persistence and harassment but sometimes it takes just a little more to come up with good results. Your challenge here is to be smart enough to put those pitches into words that would spark interest on the receiver’s end. Depending on the situation, you can adjust your pitch to align with the prospect’s level of interest.
Confidence is also one of the top qualities that a prospector should possess. A good prospector has control over his words and the enthusiasm to keep the conversation moving in a pleasant tone and flow. Their speech commands respect— credible and convincing. Some prospects are very keen on this quality. It is confidence that would make you leave a mark in your prospect’s mind.
These are just a few of many. To improve your prospecting skills, it is key to develop habits that are not directly for selling, but improves your ability to speak with both authority and warmth.
Speaking with C-suite prospects
On most occasions, you’ll get the chance to speak with important corporate leaders. These are people who have way too much work on their hands and so little time to cater calls from unassociated parties, like yourself. Usually, they won’t be there to take the call directly, so you’re likely to end up getting a recorded message.
Here’s an opportunity to perfect your pitch before it gets heard. Here are some tips:
1. Study their company
gain, you are expected to study and analyze the person and the company you are calling. After all, these professional decision makers don’t have all the time in the world to educate you. You wouldn’t want to go into battle without the proper gear and weapons, would you?
2. Mention benefits
Ask yourself why your company matters to theirs and what it could bring to the table, but be careful not to use weak value propositions because these people are so accustomed to hearing those words and may even consider your company far from believable. Jill Konrath, a sales gurunoted for her fresh sales perspectives, said that knowing how to present value through your pitches instead of features is the key to sparking buying intent from your prospect.
3. Be clear and straight to the point
As in a lot of areas, being concise is the best way to achieve results. Do not bore them with clichés and sentences that appear to be profound but are just a combination of redundant terms and phrases. If you get to catch these people on the other end of the line, they’d simply say, “Not interested,” which will reflect on what they think of you and your company.
4. Don’t self-promote
Sure, you are pitching your product and introducing it to your prospect but the message should not solely be about you and your company.
You are trying to forge a partnership, a strong business connection in which both parties are vital. Would you be able to endure a business invitation that is not only marked with self-promotion, but also doesn’t properly address you, the invitee?
The art of cold calling
Prospectors are most notorious for cold calls. Cold calling is reaching out to someone you’ve had no prior interaction with. If not done correctly, you may lose the prospect in a heartbeat, but don’t fret for there are numerous ways to warm cold calls.
Social media is a very useful tool in a lot of things, including the art of prospecting. Warm up a contact by introducing yourself through different social media interactions.
You may share their posts on Facebook or favorite the ones on their Twitter and gradually work your way from there. If you have a naturally charming personality, this won’t be a problem. By doing this, you’re not only gaining the trust of your prospect, but you also get to know his or her personality. You’ll be surprised to know how big of a leverage this is. When you finally get to call the prospect, personalize your conversations using the things you’ve learned about her.
When talking to a prospect, keep your tone conversational because the last thing you want is your prospect thinking that they’re talking to a machine. Focus on the effectiveness of your message and your pitch but toss in some fun words as well so that you could somehow steer the conversation away from being monotonous and boring. Don’t just spew out sales words and phrases and bombard your prospects with information because these might not even make sense to them yet.
Prospecting doesn’t end when you have finally secured a business deal with your prospect. Follow up and follow through at all costs.
On average, it takes to six to twelve sales interactions for a prospect to close a business deal. Trust is essential in any relationship, and it applies to this one as well. Take care and nurture your prospect throughout the whole sales process to build a long-lasting relationship.
One of the biggest mistakes prospectors make is failing to secure a particular date and time for the follow-up call which should be done towards the end of the cold call once you’ve established the trust and the interest of your potential client or business associate. The right way to do this is by asking the prospect when it is the right time to do the follow-up call. This way, you ensure that your prospect is free to take the call once it comes. It also reduces chances of missed calls or going straight to answering machines.
A follow-up call could be as challenging as a cold call. This is tested and proven by a lot of sales representatives. It’s usually the follow-up call that gets everything rolling so be very careful because it’s only going to get tougher. This is where value will truly be manifested. Worth and value of both parties are finally unwrapped in this stage of sales prospecting as well as the benefits this partnership could bring. So to make sure you ace these calls, you may check out these clever and fool-proof techniques.
When you schedule an appointment with your prospect, do it right. First of all, you have to be polite in asking. Present a range of free days for the prospect to choose from so he won’t be pressured and when you finally agree to an appointment; avoid canceling or postponing it as much as possible because you could certainly lose your credibility.
As in many other things, timing is everything when it comes to prospecting. Securing time for it and having the discipline to follow every schedule is very essential. When are you going to make these calls? When are you going to schedule business appointments? Now, most people would dedicate a specific day or two in a week to do these calls. It would normally depend on when they are most available; but ideally, you have to base this on the schedule of your prospects.
Spend a whole week making calls and find out when prospects respond the most. Use this information to cover more prospects in lesser time. If you want to ditch the rigorous surveying process, you may turn to the internet for a quick research.
Equip yourself with the more than enough knowledge and learn the strategies and tactics that go with it. Not only that, you also have to be able to endure and withstand rejection among many other things so make sure you have an open and optimistic attitude.
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Read on about how you can take a more calculated approach to sales and exceed your goals.
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- The history of ABM and how to decide if it’s right for your business
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- What sales leaders can do to successfully implement an ABM-based strategy
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