You joined your current company a few years ago to become a business advisor. Now you’re one of the top sales specialists in the company. In your previous jobs, you worked as a sales executive, and you’ve helped developed training modules for salespeople. You brought the same knowledge to your new company and developed similar modules so that your clients can grow their enterprise.
One of the components of your training module is about prospecting for potential customers. Before sales executives get their wins down the sales funnel, entities outside of the funnel are qualified through a process called prospecting. Your training is one of the most in-demand that the company offers. Potential clients are always asking what they can get out of the training.
Here are a few things you describe as the benefits of the training.
An Overview of Prospecting
As one who advises enterprise owners, one of your main messages is that they can’t visit potential clients or prospects without first validating their suitability with the product or services they are selling or that if indeed they can purchase.
This is when prospecting comes in. Prospecting has evolved into taking two main approaches: outbound and inbound, with the former as the more traditional approach. Outbound is more the art of “hunting,” wherein you identify potential clients and do cold calls or emails. The inbound approach relies on acting on more positive feedback or reactions from prospects. Today, both strategies are used to direct prospects further down the sales funnel.
Prospecting: the Gut-wrenching Challenge
Try doing it backward. Start with the target number of products or contracts sold in a month, the number of proposals submitted, the number of new opportunities identified, the number of prospects identified, and then the number of calls made. It will look something like this:
2 products/contracts<20 proposals<60 opportunities<180prospects<540 calls!
The above illustrates how critical prospecting is and how intense the effort should be. If you want to close down two accounts, proper prospecting might require you to make at least 540 calls in a month or roughly 25 calls per day. It’s gut-wrenching. Here are a few more things to note on prospecting.
- Be aggressive. You do it every other day, and your chances of meeting your target drop considerably. Be assertive and make sure that you do your prospecting daily.
- Know your product. If you’re selling highly technical items, make sure that you know some level of details about your product. If it’s a gadget or device, you’re likely going to reach out to technical people or engineers or designers. Sit down with your professional team and have them explain to you the details of the product. This will give you credibility with the person on the other line and will avoid the pass-the-phone option, which annoys potential customers.
- Listen and don’t sell. Maneuver through the conversation by allowing the prospect to talk about their pain points or critical business issues. Ask them questions, like if there are too many delays in getting the product to the market because of prototyping issues. Prospecting is all about establishing a rapport so that if you get nothing out of this first call, they will still be welcoming to receive a second or third call from you.
- Research and preparation. Establish a system on how your day and your week will look like. Devote time to doing research on your database and on the internet to create a list of “for calling.” This creates efficiency and is an excellent way to meet the illustrated target above.
Managing distractions is also essential, including turning off mobile phones and logging off from social media accounts. Likewise, a thorough lead qualification to meet the ultimate target is necessary.