Today’s post is by Mark Hunter, CSP, “The Sales Hunter.” Mark is the author of High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results and High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price.
Ask salespeople what their number one issue is and they’ll say, “getting good prospects.” It’s simple fact – you can’t close a sale until you have someone to sell to.
So what does it take to prospect successfully? Having worked with thousands of salespeople and written the book High-Profit Prospecting, I boiled it down to what I call the Ten Keys to Prospecting:
- Have a dedicated time on your calendar to prospect and don’t allow interruptions. This is absolutely essential! The most successful salespeople are those who commit time to prospecting and stick to it. Saying you’ll start prospecting as soon as you’ve taken care of everything else is not a strategy – it’s an escape tactic to avoid prospecting!
- Don’t start what you can’t finish. Prospecting is about following up. Reaching out to a bunch of people and not following up with repeat contacts is never going to result in any type of success.
- Believe 110 percent you can help others. If you don’t believe in you, why should anyone else believe in you? Top performing salespeople are successful regardless of what they sell. They know their objective is to help others, and what they sell is merely the means to do that.
- Qualify quickly. Nothing is worse than having “prospects” in your pipeline that are taking up your time but never become customers. I’m a firm believer in having a prospecting pipeline that is fast moving, allowing you to spend more time with fewer prospects. Yes, that’s the exact opposite of what many sales managers are pushing. We have to think quality, not quantity!
- Have a prospecting process and stick to it. My rule is you won’t know if your process works unless you’ve executed it for a period of time that is two times the length of your average buying cycle. For example, if it takes three months to move someone from a lead to a customer, then you need to run your process for at least six months before you’ll know if it is working. Too many salespeople give up on their plan far too soon.
- Don’t rely on social media as your primary means to generate leads. Social media is great, but don’t over-rely on it. Use it as one of your sources. Social media has a long lead time, and too many salespeople starve to death because they’ve put too much emphasis into social media, thinking it’s all they have to do. Use it to create awareness and confidence. The leads you get are purely a bonus.
- Follow up promptly. Sounds simple, but more opportunities are lost due to the failure of the salesperson to follow up fast when leads/prospects give an indication of wanting to move forward. Countless opportunities are lost because the salesperson is afraid they’ll be seen as a stalker. If stalking helps me close more deals, sign me up!
- Use the telephone. Don’t fall for the myth, “The telephone doesn’t work because nobody answers it.” Sure, the telephone isn’t as effective as it used to be, but don’t give up on it. The telephone allows you to have conversations with leads and prospects, allowing you to qualify them more quickly and ultimately help them far beyond what they initially expected.
- Don’t rely only on the marketing department for leads. It’s always great to have leads supplied, but top performers know they have an obligation to get leads and prospects. Relying on the marketing department is merely an excuse for not taking control of yourself.
- Make the prospecting process about the other person. It’s not what you sell; it’s the outcome you can help the prospect with that will get you the high-value prospects you need. If all you’re doing is telling others what you do and what your product features are, you’ll be doomed to failure.
Have you bought my new book High-Profit Prospecting? You need to, as it’s full of proven strategies to help you succeed.