People talk about prospecting as though it is open to interpretation, it should not be. Prospecting is the act of engaging with someone with the purpose of initiating a sales cycle. It is not about trying to sell, qualify, or any of the things that will never happen if you do not engage. There is a singular purpose to prospecting, that is to engage.
It is not about striking a relationship that you hope will lead to something, that’s called dating; anyway, who says they can’t buy from you before you form a real relationship; who says there needs to be a whole lotta clicking, liking, and retweeting before you can engage? The only ones who say things like that are people who do not prospect. People who confuse prospecting with a social encounter, those who still believe the world will beat a path to their door if they built a better ____________ (insert product).
This post is more for those who have to prospect beyond the known, with people they have never met, not connected with on LinkedIn, or any previous contact. Connecting and engaging with these prospects is a different effort and experience, and calls for some more effort than clicking around, steps like cold calling.
This requires a different approach with a different mindset and outlook. I was describing one of these actions to rep recently, and he said “that’s not cool”. You know what’s really not cool, is not having enough opportunities in your pipeline and not knowing what to do about it. So here some cool and not so cool things when it comes to successful prospecting.
Cool: Leaving a voice mail. Not only is it cool cause people call back, and you don’t get calluses on fingers dialing them over and over again, but even when they don’t call back it is a touch point, and you’re going to need 8 to 12 touch points before a potential prospect will respond. You can get some insights about how I get 40 – 50 percent of messages I leave, returned within 72 or so hours, by click here.
Not cool: Wasting valuable time at the top of a prospecting call with your title, region, and other useless info that either puts the prospect to sleep or causes them to hang up. Tell them what’s in it for them, not about you. Worse and funnier, is when I call a number and the outbound voice mail message is:
“Hi you’ve reach Alfred Newman, regional mid-west sales manager, with ACME Corp, a Fortune 500 company.” (Sometimes they even add their company’s tag line). WHO CARES! Sure, Mom and your significant other, but no one else.
Instead of boring them to tears with that drivel, why not leave the toll free number for your support team, the people they probably want to talk to anyway.
Not cool: One outbound voice mail crime, when I call someone on Friday October 7, and their message says “Hi, this Emma, I am currently out of the office on vacation returning on Monday June 27.” What’s a prospect going to think when they return your message and it is October?
Cool: Leading the call with outcomes you have delivered against objectives similar to theirs, so they know what’s in it for them, rather than knowing your title (or corporate rank).
Not Cool: When a prospect says they are not interested, asking “What are you not interested in?” When a prospect says they are all set, responding “Well maybe I can send you some information so you know about us in case something comes up”. I can’t believe people get paid to say that, I think they are paid to move past that and get the appointment.
Cool: Calling everyone who is part of the decision, one after the other, and bringing them together rather than one by one. Not only does that take more time and work, but will force you to cover the same ground over and over, whereas, if you reached out and got everyone involved at the same time, you can create the opposite effect.
Not Cool: Asking “Can I speak to the person in charge of…” Nothing says it’s time to put on a rain coat because we are about to experience some spray and pray.
Cool: Focusing on objectives not pain. They all have objectives, very few will admit to pain, whether it is there or not.
Certainly not an exhaustive list, just things I experienced this week. So these were some the things I observed, tell us what you think is cool or uncool in prospecting, drop your thoughts in the comment box below.