It’s imperative to keep the pipeline filled with prospects.
As a result, the prospecting process must come to occupy a primary place in a salesperson’s list of priorities if success is to be achieved.
10 great prospecting techniques
Here are 10 prospecting techniques that will bring you a steady stream of qualified potential customers:
1) Make a commitment to be a prospect-driven salesperson
With too many salespeople, prospecting is taken seriously only during those periods when sales are down. They continue to be interested in the results of prospecting but neglect the process of obtaining prospects. The goal is to be known as a “prospect-driven” salesperson, one that focuses total attention and resources on uncovering prospective customers.
2) Focus on finding the right prospects
Prospects must come before prospecting. Some salespeople spend a lot of time chasing would-be prospects who have no interest in what they’re selling. The key is spending time determining exactly who fits the profile of what you want to sell and then building a prospect profile. Analyze your top customers, develop appropriate profiles and search for prospects that fit those profiles. The profiles will help you focus your prospecting activities on profitable, potential customers.
3) Cultivate continuously
A major weakness is making prospecting an event, rather than a process. Prospecting is not an impulsive quick fix. It involves more than making a call and, if there’s a negative response, crossing the name off the list. The purpose of continuous cultivation is to build a relationship with a prospect, something some salespeople find difficult when the initial contact is negative.
4) Look at former customers
Many former customers may be ready to buy again or try a new product or service. Try to mix in former customers when you’re planning your prospecting calls. Former customer may also be an invaluable source of leads.
5) Expect attrition
Businesses move, close or are acquired, and through no fault of their own, salespeople lose those accounts. The best way to replace them is to strive to have a pipeline of prospects who can be looked upon as customers in the making.
6) Recognize resistance to change
Some prospects have a natural resistance to change. They follow the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it philosophy,” which makes it difficult to open new accounts. When prospects raise objections, listen carefully and ask for clarification. By asking the prospect to go into more detail about the objection, you’ll be in a better position to overcome it.
7) Own your territory
Salespeople who don’t call on qualified prospects in their territories are leaving the door open for competitors to do so. Once competitors get an opening with prospects in your territory, they may start converting your long-term customers in that territory as well.
8) Take a close look at the competition
Are your competitors failing in areas that may be your strengths? Have there been any changes in your competitors’ staff or product line that may give you an opportunity? Companies in transition provide a great opportunity for salespeople who act quickly and creatively.
9) Resist hitting a comfort level
Some salespeople become content with their lifestyle. They hit their own glass ceiling, by only calling on favorite customers, looking for just an acceptable amount of new business and not really pushing themselves. The entrepreneurial salesperson is never satisfied, always thinking and trying to grow, and improve the business.
10) Try to learn what the prospect does and his or her objectives
Who are the customers and competitors? Get information with web searches, annual reports, people who work at the prospect’s company and press releases.