It’s one of the toughest, but most important aspects of being a salesperson. It can be disheartening, but it’s what gets the ball rolling. If you’ve got a product to sell, you must have the people to sell it to. Customers aren’t going to fall at your feet, you have to get out and hunt for them.
We’ve put together our top 6 ways you can make the prospecting process go a little smoother:
1. Have a plan
Staring at Google or a dated trade directory for hours will not find you business. You need a concrete plan for prospecting before you even get started. Who will you target? How will you find them? More importantly, what approach are you gong to take? These are some of the most basic sales questions that should be embedded in your mind when you start your hunt for new business.
Having a plan in your mind will save you haphazardly taking each call as it comes, with no clear idea of what you are doing, saying or what you’ve accomplished.
2. Don’t let your emotions take over
We all take things to heart. Being hung up on, having no calls returned and doors slammed in your face can be tough. In fact, it’s downright brutal sometimes. But it comes with the territory. You can’t let your emotions take over and rule your head when prospecting.
If your calls aren’t going too well, why not try another avenue? Speak to marketing and put together an introductory campaign to prospects that you can follow up on. Reach out through social media (see point 6) or even chat to your current customers to source some references. There are ways around the heartbreak – just think outside the box a little.
3. Quality over quantity
Wrapping up another day at the office with 100 plus calls under your belt doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a job well done. I can almost guarantee that some of those 100 calls will be poorly researched, bad quality and, more often than not, won’t result in a sale.
What’s more important to your manager: 100 poorly researched calls or 10 well researched calls? I’d punt for the latter. The closing ratio for 10 ‘perfect fit’ calls will be far superior to the 100 ‘milkround’ calls you’re making to hit your quota for this week. Do your research and make a dozen valuable calls over a hundred pointless ones.
4. Track your progress
It’s important for you to self-manage in order to develop your prospecting technique. To make changes, you have to keep a beady eye on what it is you’re doing. Don’t wait for your boss to tell you how you can improve, be a critical self-starter and take a hard look at your technique. How many calls are you making? How are you approaching those calls? How many of those calls are successful? What are you doing differently in those great calls? What do your colleagues do well that you admire?
You can monitor your patterns and figure out what works well and what doesn’t. Keep a tally of your best calls and, if you can, listen back to them. Modify your script regularly to incorporate what works well.
5. Stay motivated
Making 30 calls and no progress isn’t the best motivator. We’ve all been there, on the verge of giving up and throwing in the towel. If you’re new to the sales game, this can be a particularly trying time and can really dent your enthusiasm.
But put the phone down and take a break. Go for a wander, get a coffee and clear your head for 20 minutes. Don’t get stuck in a rut of dial tones and telephone calls. Get back to your desk feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world. You’ll have a mind clear of negative thoughts and your next call may be one of your best so far today.
6. Be social!
We’ve written a number of articles about social media for salespeople, and we’ll add some links to them at the bottom, but if there’s one piece of advice we’d give you on social media for prospecting it’s this: use social media to flip the prospecting process on its head. What I mean by that is you can be social with a prospect and talk to them about their problems before pitching to them.
Learning a prospect’s problems before pitching is great because it can save everyone involved so much time; you won’t waste time pitching to people who aren’t a fit, and they won’t waste time listening! Being social will help you to learn a prospect’s problems before you pitch, you can tailor it to them, which should come naturally enough when you know exactly how your product or service can solve their issues.