When it comes to working in sales, albeit in any industry, it is essential that you have a solid and reliable prospecting model established at a personal level. That will be something that works for you and you can commit to every working day.
The reason why prospecting and networking has to occur every day is simply that consistency builds results. Lack of call and contact consistency tends to ‘reset the numbers’ and you lose ground on all the efforts and things that you may already have done.
Here are some top tips to help you get your system up and running:
- One of the most important parts of prospecting and networking is to create a habit in your business diary. A regular habit of prospecting and networking will take you forward in the marketplace. That being said, it takes quite some time to modify your business skills and habits. That can be some weeks of deliberate prospecting effort of before you accept the requirement to do the job in that way.
- Focus on just a few prospecting activities but make them quite effective and consistent. I go back to the point that consistency will be critical to the results that you achieve. Like it or not, the cold calling process will be part of your prospecting model. Reach out to new people every day through fresh telephone calls, direct letters, and door knocking. Use your business card as an affective and timeless business tool.
- The prospecting process is not a sales pitch. It is a communication between two people to establish common ground and potential interest. When the client or prospect appreciates your knowledge and skills, the chances of new business escalate. It is just a matter of maintaining contact over time and waiting for the right opportunities to arise.
- Every prospecting call should be focused on the opportunity of a meeting. Meetings build relationships, and relationships lead to potential transactions, agreements, and contracts.
- Provide valuable market information and resource updates to your clients and prospects. At every opportunity and certainly on a regular basis send out product and service updates. Follow-up that information with a telephone call or meeting. Most of the business you create will be through a personal relationship built over the long term with the right people.
- 6. Practice your dialogue for presentations and prospecting. At every opportunity refine the words that you use and the phrases that relate to your product or service. Regular practice will help you with your conversions in prospecting.
It is not difficult to rise the top of any industry as a top salesperson. It is simply a matter of determining the right processes to support your actions and activities. From that point onwards, you repeat the process is every day and consistently grow your client or prospect database.
A clear advantage here is that most salespeople do not have the commitment to do the work required in prospecting and networking. That leaves the marketplace wide open for those quality salespeople that can get their industry and focus under control.
When you work as a professional salesperson in any industry, the only way that you will achieve a dominant market share and a good income is through putting your heart and soul into the selling process. Over time that will help you with building your business and your income.
Professional selling requires practice, good market knowledge, excellent product knowledge, and total personal commitment. Not all salespeople will check all these boxes when it comes to personal performance and business focus.
It is worthwhile saying that many salespeople are not totally committed to the task and the clients that they serve. They prefer to work the hours of an ‘order taker’ and not a top salesperson. That being the case, it is better for them to work in customer service. Let the front line sales go to those people that know how to encourage the transaction, and value to the customer, and grow the relationships over time.
So let’s go back to the point that top results require a top salesperson with a quality level of focus. Here are some points around which you can build your sales business and your leads and opportunities:
- Most customers and clients don’t want to be an experiment when it comes to placing an order or achieving a result. They like to know that they are working with the best people in the industry with the best product or service capability.
- Providing you have a top quality product or service to supply, most of the upcoming new business that you will generate will come from personal relationships established over time. This then says that you will need a good prospecting model and contact process to implement with all of your clients and prospects. It is a personal process that cannot be delegated.
- It may take three or four attempts at contacting the person before a meeting can be arranged. It may also take two or three meetings from that point onwards to establish a potential sale or order. Consistency and persistence within your prospecting model will be essential to building market share.
- Enthusiasm, knowledge, and trust are key elements to the client and customer relationship. Most of the people that we work with will want to see all of these elements before they share their business opportunities with us. Those salespeople with lower levels of integrity or attention to detail will usually not last in any industry over the long term.
- It should be said that people like to do business with the people they know and trust. Top salespeople rise to the top of their industry due to the levels of trust and the relationships that they have established.
Whilst the process sounds basic and simple, many salespeople overlook the necessity to follow through on the points of establishing new relationships and strengthening trust with their clients and prospects.
Forget about the need to make a sale, and focus on the relationships that you require; the business will come your way over time. Put integrity back into your selling processes.
In the profession of selling it is wise to remember that the customers and prospects that we work with essentially do business with people they know, respect and trust. It is the personal connections that you establish and the marketplace that will help you win the sales and the deals.
Make it a priority to establish valuable relationships with quality clients and key businesses. The strength and the integrity of the relationships will underpin your market share over time. Some of those relationships can extend for months if not years before a transaction will occur. You will need to be quite selective when it comes to the right clients and the right prospects to work with. Understand the best clients to work with and help them do business with you in a relevant way.
Here are some tips to help you build that foundation of client connection and trust. You can add to the list based on your business type and location.
- Your business card is likely to be the most effective marketing tool that you have. The stock paper that you use should be quite solid and not flimsy. A solid business card gives the perception of strength and relevance. On the front of the business card, have all of the relevant contact information, e-mail address, and website contact. On the back of the business card, have some dot points that relate to your business speciality and professional services. Be quite specific so that the client can retain the card as a quality contact. The size of the business card should be on the larger size of ‘average’. That being said, it should not be too large to be inconvenient to be handled or retained. The colours of the business card will be relevant to your business branding but also to your market. If you work with certain communities and different nationalities, be aware of the perceptions of colour. Choose the colours that work with your business and with the prospect or client communities.
- Most salespeople today will have some form of electronic or e-mail newsletter. The process can be integrated to your website, and your database. A newsletter should be sent fortnightly or monthly to your database. It should contain relevant articles, news clippings, and links to product or service information. You can use an auto responder process to streamline and simplify the dispatch of a newsletter.
- Segment your clients and prospects into valuable categories. Create a VIP club of special clients that should be serviced in a particular way. They will receive a greater percentage of your attention and service. Those clients should have the ability to give you repeat and referral business over time. They should also have the potential for frequent ongoing valuable business at the higher end of the scale.
- Establish a call contact program where you can be prospecting for new clients and contacting established clients each day. Devote approximately 3 hours to the call contact strategy. Half of that time should be devoted to those clients that you already know, and the other half of that time should be devoted to new people that you want to connect with. In that way your pipeline of opportunity will grow. The best time to make the calls will usually be the mornings. That leaves the afternoons for important meetings and contracts or negotiations.
From these points, it is easy to see that the client should be at the centre of your business model. Remaining in contact in a relevant way will help you build market share over time. People like to do business with people. That business secret will never change. Establish the required levels of trust and commitment to the prospects and clients that you know.
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In looking at a prospecting model, you should consider prospecting as a marathon and not a sprint. It is something that you do every day and consistency matters more than speed.
To build the right prospecting model for you consider the following questions:
- Where is your market located? You will need to focus in a region to connect with the right people.
- What does a prospect look like? What are the attributes of a prospect that help you choose the right connections to make? Clarity is required.
- What will you do every day as part of personal prospecting for new clients? How will you get the process under way?
- What will you say to prospects and new people when you connect with them for the first time? Why should they listen to you? Simple dialogue development will help you with the connection. The conversation that you create should be about the person you are talking to and not what you’re offering. Questions should form the core of your approach to new clients and contacts.
- Why should the person meet with you? The best canvassing calls focus on the opportunity of a meeting. Your call should be focused on just one thing; to create a meeting where you can connect with the person and get better information. Most new business will come from the trust you can create and the relationship establishment that will be built over time.
- What service or product will be at the centre of the prospecting effort? You cannot confuse the process with too many ideas or statements. When you understand what people need from you, the conversations you create should centre on that topic and requirement.
- What prospecting process will be at the core of your contact and database model? It pays to only use one prospecting system so you can improve in the method and practice what you do.
- When will you start the process and how often will you do it? Regularity is the key to getting results in networking and prospecting.
As you can see, clarity is required to take your prospecting efforts to the market and your location. It is not a random process.
One of the biggest mistakes salespeople make in canvassing and networking is in doing too many things and not focusing down on just a few. When you focus you can track and improve the results that you are getting. Practice and self-improvement are key attributes of a good prospecting model.
When it comes to working as a professional salesperson you must have some form of prospecting model you can use every day. Failure to prospect will be the ‘fast track’ to mediocrity in your industry.
So what does a good prospecting model look like? Try some of these things:
- Your prospecting time should be split 50/50 between new contacts and existing contacts.
- Every day you must do your calls and make the contacts for about 2 or 3 hours.
- At the end of the day, try one more prospecting call. It sets the scene for the next day.
- Forget about pitching your services across the telephone. Create conversations where people will talk to you about their needs and interests in your product or service.
- Create meetings from your calls. Meetings allow you to build trust and relevance with the prospect.
- Maintain your database yourself so you can shape its use and application to any leads or information that may be a lead.
- It takes about 3 calls to the same person to get a meeting organised. For this reason you must be diligent in making your calls to new people. When you start building your prospecting model, keep refining it and shaping it for your market conditions.
- Practice your canvassing call dialogue so you can improve your call to meeting ratios.
Top salespeople know how to prospect. They own their system and focus. They keep it going no matter what pressure they are operating under.
When you start prospecting for new business it is wise to stop and understand exactly what it is that you do and why someone would use your services. This specific information will help you find more customers and convert them to clients. Define your niche business.
In real terms what you do is match your specific speciality into the customer. This single fact will make all of your cold calls more productive and focused. When you keep your niche business narrow and specific, it makes it a lot easier to talk about the offerings and benefits you bring to the client.
This approach to prospecting is simple yet effective. It makes you focus on yourself so you can sell your services and product with greater skill.
To adopt this process, consider the following questions:
- Where is your market located geographically? Define your territory within boundaries. Stay within your boundaries so your prospecting model is specific and organised.
- What is it that you sell? For example, if you sell something like ‘surveyors equipment’, what specific equipment is it? Who would be attracted to that equipment? Drill down on the prospective buyers into groups such as mining surveyors, council planning surveyors, road surveyors. When you do this you have the start of a focused prospecting model.
- With your specific groups, why would they use your surveyor’s product and how would they use it? What benefit would they get from it?
From these simple questions you can refine your prospecting process and your dialogue. No longer is your cold calling a sales pitch; it becomes centred on a very specific question and conversation. Here is an example:
- ‘Good morning Mr Brown, it’s Peter Smith from Acme Surveyors. Maybe you can help me out for a moment. I’m just calling to see if you are struggling with your survey equipment in road planning, perhaps due to the lack of the latest geotechnical updates. Is this an issue for you?’
This is the start of a very deep and relevant conversation. Notice that the call entry point is all about the client and not much about you. Expect the client to ‘push back’ a few times in conversation; most customers hate to be ‘sold’, and that is why you should not pitch. You can do more with a conversation in a cold call than you can with a one-sided ‘sales pitch’.
The benefit of this entry statement is that it opens up into information that you can work with. Keep the conversations moving forward by talking about the client and what they are doing today. Avoid talking too much about your offering. Ask more questions to see what the client is doing and how they are doing it.
The primary target in making the call is to see if the customer or prospect has a need or an interest. Beyond that point you should set up a meeting. Do not pitch your services across the telephone, but ask for a meeting to show the client more information that may be helpful.
It is not hard to win new business; it is just a process. Align yourself to the process and more opportunity will come your way.