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.
If you sell business to business the telephone is a very powerful tool to use with your prospects. It is relatively easy to find the people to contact as prospects and the telephone book is a good place to start.
Here are some reasons to use the telephone as part of your prospecting model:
- It is time efficient
- Anyone can do it
- You can generate lots of meetings from the telephone
If these are the facts, why is it that we see so many salespeople struggle? It is the case that most salespeople just cannot deal with the organisation and mindset required to make lots of prospecting calls. It is also common for a certain degree of ‘call reluctance’ to be evident. Top salespeople break through these things, whilst others avoid the challenge.
If you are going to use the telephone to call ‘private people’ and individuals, check out the rules and laws that apply to the ‘do not call register’. You will need to keep within the rules.
If you are new to an industry or new to your job, and sales results are something that you must achieve, then start to master the telephone and bring it into your business model.
Here are some tips to get your business momentum underway:
- Set some goals that relate to results in your career. The goals should be medium to long term and apply to the business year ahead.
- Determine the things that you need to do to reach those goals. You should have a list of 3 to 5 things that if done, will help you move ahead in client numbers and sales orders.
- Find the resources that you need to move ahead with your actions.
- Develop a call prospecting plan that involves the telephone.
- Create a call script and process. Practice what you say and how you make those calls.
- Establish a day plan that allows you to get the key things done that will improve your business and client list.
- Start the action process and do it every day.
- Start building a database as part of your call and customer contact system.
It is very important to create new habits when it comes to building your business. If you do not create new habits, the same results that you got last year will be evident this year. It is hard to set new habits in place, and it will take a high degree of personal focus. After about 3 or 4 weeks you will see progress.
As you start to do these things, track your actions and results. You will soon see some successes, and over time those successes will build. In business today everything is up to you and the systems that you develop.
Personal performance comes from within, and you are the best person to make that happen.
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.
When it comes to selling and professional customer service, the top salespeople spend more time in going the ‘extra mile’ when it comes to the solution for the customer. Most salespeople will say that they do a good job, but the reality can only be assessed from a client perspective.
Only the client will know that you have done more than what was required and that you have really helped them. When you get this process right, you will get more enquiries and build a better database of leads and clients.
Our clients like to know that they are being helped by top salespeople and not being sold by an average salesperson.
Intelligent business people will choose the product or service providing all the elements of information, performance, services, and supply are available.
Here is a strategy to help you with your key accounts and sales:
- Seek to understand the need and the requirement before you sell the product or service.
- Provide information and knowledge. If you do this correctly, you will not have to sell and pitch much at all to close the deal.
- Be aware of the limitations on product and service availability. Do not overstate the supply of something when you really do not know the complete facts. When in doubt get the right information and check it out before you pass it on to the client.
- When the deal is being negotiated and documented, be aware of the order status and supply times. Remove any doubt from the clients mind.
- When the deal is done, follow through personally and ask if all facts and outcomes were as the client expected.
- Stay in contact for the long haul. Contact all your clients every 90 days or more so they feel connected to your business and services.
It’s not hard to be a top salesperson. It is really common sense coupled with great attention to detail.
In business today, the humble telephone remains the most effective way to grow your business. The telephone allows you to make cold calls and find more clients to connect to; you can do all of this from the comfort of your desk. That being said, many salespeople will avoid the cold calling process at any and every opportunity.
So why do so many people have a problem with calls to new prospective clients? Here are some reasons that are common in most industries today.
- Lack of organisation
- No idea of how to make the process work
- Failure to develop a habit of making calls every day
- Call reluctance
- Not knowing of what to say
So the list will go on and on. The opportunity that exists here is massive; a good salesperson that can establish an effective call contact process in their market can create massive new business opportunity. That can then mean better salary or commission depending on how you get paid for results.
So what is the secret to progress here? The secret to making prospecting and cold calling work for you is to get started today and keep it going. Do not stop prospecting for any reason; every day you should be prospecting for new clients for at least 2 hours. This single fact will keep the business coming in and your pipeline growing.
If your industry is tough or slow, go back to the basics and get out amongst your clients and potential targets. Make prospecting the number one thing that you do every day. Quite soon you will see things change around for the positive and when that happens do not stop what you are doing, but lift your efforts even higher. Top salespeople know that everything comes down to them and what they do every day.
When it comes to building your market share or establishing your market share as a salesperson, a good database program or customer relationship management system will help you greatly. Keeping in contact with the right people in the right way is really what this is all about. Systems will help you do that and open the door with more prospects at the right time and in the right way.Here are some rules to establish a contact management program in your business:
- Define your market geographically so you know where your clients are going to come from. Unless you do this first, you could spend far too much time spreading your efforts too broadly and seeing little outcome. You want results as soon as possible and on that basis you should limit your efforts to a defined area at all times. Importantly that area should contain enough clients for you to focus on and convert to new business.
- Establish a list of raw data including a list of companies and people that should be contacted as part of marketing efforts. To keep the pipeline of opportunity moving ahead, this list should be added to daily at a rate of 10 to 20 people from selected businesses. Take care in setting the right level of decision maker that should be approached regards your product or service. Keep the calls going and eventually you will have a solid database of opportunity.
- Suspects are the people that you will be making contact with. They will come from the research undertaken as part of the ‘raw data’ stage above. On a daily basis, ring down your suspects at a rate of 20 per day. You will only reach 5 to 10 on average per day, so those that you missed out on should go back into the call register for another day.
- Prospects will be the people that you have spoken to and identified a need or interest in your product or service. When they are noted to be prospects, you should be moving them towards a meeting with you if and when such can be arranged. This can take time to achieve depending on their business and their need, so keep talking to them on a regular basis until you can the meeting that you require.
- Face to face contact is important in most industries before any orders are achieved. Rarely can you sell your services and products across the telephone. It is far easier to sell a meeting over the telephone and then to get to know the right people. Relationships are everything in business today.
- Hot Prospects are those people that know you and are actively looking for something to buy or sell as part of your industry and market type. Keep in contact with them every few days to open the door on a sale or order.
- Clients that you work with should be kept at the top of your contact register. The contact made will include calls, meetings, conferences, product or service briefings, product releases, and regular client events.
- Your competitor’s clients should get a special category in your database. Over time you can convert some of them to your clients, so a strategy of high priority contact should be established with these people.
Given all of these things, it is wise to ask for referral business whenever possible. Every client and prospect in your database will know other people, some of whom will be valid contacts for future business; ask the question at the right time with the right people.