There are very, very few of us who are born loving to prospect. If you are one of those are prospecting unicorns you may not need to read this (just kidding). If you are in the vast majority of us who tend to view prospecting as our least favorite activity, please read on…
As sales professionals we are the new customer “factory” for our company. Sure our marketing teams are working hard to drive brand awareness and hopefully leads from those activities but at the end of the day it is up to the sales professional to hunt for new customers.
The biggest pushback to regular prospecting I get from my clients is “I spend a lot of time trying to do this well but am discouraged by the lack of results I get”. Here’s the recipe I’ve developed over the years, which I use myself and teach to my clients, to not only prospect effectively but to want to make it part of my normal efforts because it works so well:
- Develop a process that works for you – creating an easy to use repeatable process that works the way you like to work is key. Best practice recommendation is:
- Create a target list of the 20 or so target accounts you want to sell to. Base the list off your definition of what a successful client looks like in your world (size of company, industry, etc.) and replenish the list as you start sales cycles (because your prospecting worked)
- Research the company and the key decision makers you intend to reach out to. This is about 30 minutes of research in total, not days or months…If target is publicly traded their website is your best friend. What do the last several earnings reports say about how they are doing? Same for recent press releases, etc. If not publicly traded you can still get the info you need but Google or services like Zoominfo just became your best friend. What does LinkedIn say about each of the people you intend to contact? The research is goaled at defining your reason for reaching out to them (you see some problems that your company specializes in solving, that you’ve already solved for companies similar to your target account.) This “we’ve done it before and here are the results we helped the other client achieve” becomes the Credibility Introduction based content for your initial outreach.
- Once your research gives you enough info to initiate first contact then, and only then, begin your outreach process.
- Set reasonable goals for yourself – if you’re working a target list of 20 accounts a reasonable goal could be that you are doing two major activities each of your prospecting days. This may not sound like a lot but with consistency in your execution results add up pretty quickly. The two activities I focus on are starting the initial contact and following up to those that I’ve started initial contact process with. When you get comfortable with this (it doesn’t take that long because you’re following a process that you built for yourself, right?) you’ll find that you are doing prospecting activities more and more each week, and not just on your calendared prospecting days.
- Consistency and perseverance rule the day – now that you’ve got a process and a target account list the key ingredient is to make sure you calendar the right amount of time each week to effectively prospect. The best practice I recommend is to pick two days of the week that work best for your schedule and block out 3-4 hours both days, mine are Monday and Friday mornings. When you schedule your blocks set the automatic recurrence feature so these are on your calendar from now thru the end of time (because doing this is now part of your normal, right?). Once calendared you need to be brutal on not letting things interfere with these time blocks. When something uber important comes up that causing a conflict make sure you adjust that week’s calendar to still execute your 6-8 hours of weekly prospecting. Do NOT fall into the trap of “this week got busy I’ll just do more prospecting next week”…this never works and results in you breaking your deal with yourself that you will prospect 6-8 hours per week regularly.
If you’d like more details about any part of this, I’m happy to share, just message me please. I started out literally hating to prospect because I wasn’t seeing results for my sweat equity investment, today I actually love to prospect because I taught myself how to do it so the results come. Please repeat after me “I prospect therefore I am.”
Doug Von Koenig
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