Why I Love To Prospect
Hang on, did I lose you? Give you the willies? How can anyone you may be wondering love the worst part of the Sales cycle?
Because, if you approach prospecting correctly, it becomes the best part of the Sales cycle as it sets up and positions how the rest of the conversation will go.
There’s no reason truthfully in this day of LinkedIn, Google, and other search engines right at our fingertips to fear picking up the phone and prospecting someone you don’t know. With all the information readily available you should be able to form a pretty good idea about your prospect and what business challenges they may be experiencing. Which should give you the confidence you need more than ever to step up and dial their number.
But there is a definite strategy you should utilize on a consistent basis to raise your probability of success. And always remember, it’s not about you. It’s about your prospect and their business challenges.
Truly, who cares about your product or services except you? You haven’t earned the right to talk about them because you do not know how to position them yet. Until you understand and have clarified the business challenges your prospect may be facing you cannot align your solutions effectively. You will just be ‘pitching’, and the only place a pitch belongs is in baseball.
Here are 4 steps I consistently follow when prospecting to position the call and provide value:
1. Research, Research, Research – This is the “Pre-Call” step of the Consultative Sales Process that is required before the “Approach” can be developed. This is also, in my experience, one of the most important stages as without proper research how can questions / assumptions be developed?
If you think just having the name of an Executive and a generic ‘value proposition’ is going to get you in the door, I have to tell you that you are wrong. You are just ‘banging off the calls’ versus making true Professional Sales prospecting calls. Activity on its own does not automatically equal Results.
I’m a naturally curious person, so researching the target company is enjoyable for me. What has been going on with them lately? Have they been involved in any mergers or acquisitions? Are they opening up or closing locations?
Are there financial results available on their website to get an idea of whether they are making their forecasts? Are there new Appointments in their Executive Ranks, and where did they come from? Promotions from within or outside of the company? How is their competition doing? What do their recent Press Releases say?
You get the idea. Depending on what solutions you sell, craft your questions to undercover challenges they may be having in the area(s) you could assist them in.
If you sell Collaboration Platforms or Conferencing Solutions, a company that has recently expanded into new markets would be a very good target as they are probably experiencing growing pains in their internal and external communications. If you sell office technologies and they have just acquired a new company, chances are they will be experiencing challenges in integrating different systems into a cohesive platform.
It always amazes me how few Salespeople deliberately take the time to research if their target prospect could be experiencing challenges in the areas they could assist them in before they call.
2. You next need to identify who the correct person would be to contact based upon the business challenges you have initially uncovered. LinkedIn is a great tool to use in researching ‘who’s who’ at the company. Based on your research, could they be experiencing a technology issue due to recent expansion? Who is their VP of Technology? Who else have ‘others viewed’ on their page? Who is in charge of Finances (in my experience the buck always stops with the CFO)? What information can you collect on the potential Executives you would like to approach?
You cannot overly prepare at this stage. The more information, connections, etc. that you can uncover, the better.
3. Now that you are armed with current information and have a good idea where there may be challenges you can begin to customize your “Approach”. It is crucial that you make it relevant to their business challenges and not some generic company like theirs.
I prefer to craft voicemail and email messaging in which I share what I have learned about their company, where their potential business challenge(s) might be based upon current events, and pertinent questions. Are they currently assessing their options? Have they initiated a comprehensive review of their requirements?
I am as specific and brief as possible at this step as I know that it will take generally 8 – 10 touches to elicit a response. This is why it is important to have alternative messaging, such as voicemail and email, prepared to use.
Also, you need to be patient... you cannot call them on Monday, email them on Wednesday, and call again on Friday. It is too much, and shows that you are not being respectful of their ‘space’. No more than one call or email per week.
In my messaging I always ask if they are the correct person I should be speaking with. If not, I ask if they could kindly let me know who that person would be (such as Valerie in Finance, etc.), and I will contact them directly. It is helpful to mention that you have been referred to your alternate contact by your original contact when you call them.
Each time that you follow up it is beneficial to have something of additional valuethat is NOT about you or your company. Some industry (their's) news to share, relevant articles you have come across, etc. that may be of interest to them are examples of what you would want to include.
4. Once you have a response you are now in your first appointment even though one of your goals at this point will be to earn the opportunity to proceed to an in-person meeting. You may think that now you have the right to talk about your company or solutions. No, no, no.... you have only earned the opportunity to learn more. You are now earning the opportunity to proceed to the “Discoveries” stage of the Consultative Sales cycle where you will stay for potentially a long period of time, perhaps with several stakeholders in different locations.
The information you gather, and the relationships you are now building, is exactly what you need to develop a customized proposal for their business challenges and / or requirements. If you talk too early about your solutions, you are only stealing your own thunder. Wait, be patient. Remember Detective Columbo? There’s always ‘just one more thing’. Don’t leave anything on the table that could assist you in developing your proposal.
When you later encounter objections, and you will, it is the information you have gathered during Discoveries that you will refer back to for validation and to qualify if anything has changed. I cannot emphasize enough how critical Discoveries is in developing a winning and relevant solution that aligns with their challenges.
If you are diligent in your Consultative process, success will be yours. Embrace the fact that you have made a difference in professionally assisting a company, which was once just a target name on your list, solve issues they may not even have known they had.
This is why I Love to Prospect.
And why I Love Sales.
About the Author:
Denise M. Barry is an Entrepreneurial Sales Leader who is passionate about New Business Development.
From practicing Consultative Sales for over 26 years, Denise is convinced it is a Methodology that successfully spans multiple industries as the ‘steps’ are the same regardless of what the product or solution is. She has been very fortunate to have had opportunities to mentor and coach many new Sales Leaders in Consultative Sales over her Career.
Denise specializes in Outsourced Sales for her Global clients, enabling them to:
- Launch new Products and Gather Analytical Data
- Open up new Marketplaces and Verticals - 'dip their toe in first'
- Increase Sales and ‘Top-up’ Pipelines
I welcome companies who are interested in augmenting their Global strategy by including the opportunities that abound in the Greater Toronto Area, Canada to contact me.
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