At the beginning of the year, we ran a poll asking alumni to share the biggest challenges they expected to face in achieving their professional goals or targets for 2018. A large number of sales reps indicated that finding enough prospects was a leading challenge.
2 years ago I posted this article to help those that were struggling to refine prospects in their given territories. I would recommend reviewing it to create characteristics of a model customer, first.
The reality for most sellers is that your company provides you with a defined geography or a description of what type of company you can engage, i.e., vertical, employee count, FED, SMB, SLED, (State & Local Gov. + Education), etc. There was a time when my geography was “34th Street to 42nd Street west of 5th Avenue”. At that time tools like Hoovers, LinkedIn or Discover.org did not exist, either did the internet, but I digress… In that role, activity was key to success, as our product was universal for anyone running a legitimate business. Dialing and knocking on doors was essential because the data wasn’t available to refine who I called or where I went.
Much has changed for the better; however, activity remains your key to success. If you can complete the foundational work to define the ideal customer, leveraging this understanding will serve you well in your initial search. Establishing a short narrative about a delighted, existing customer can open the door. From there your goal is to determine if this prospect represents an opportunity; meaning do they have a problem that we solve, connected to an objective where we can help.
Last point – cold calling is hard. So don’t do it. Creating familiarity in your discipline can establish you among those you want to influence. Join a user forum, go to meet and greets, get active online, write articles, make useful comments and engage everywhere you can. Then pick up the phone.
Fun fact – In my first outside sales role, The Empire State Building was in my patch and I canvassed the entire building in 2 days, but I digress… #shoeleather
Good luck and good selling!