February 9, 2012 by Ken Dooley
Posted in: In this week's e-newsletter - Sales & Marketing, Industry Spotlight - Sales & Marketing, Latest News & Views - Sales & Marketing, Sales meeting ideas, training
Here are ten prospecting commitments that may bring your salespeople a steady stream of qualified prospects.
- 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 and then is forgotten once the orders begin coming in. 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.
- Focus on finding the right prospects. 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 list. 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.
- 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 that relationship with a prospect, something some salespeople find difficult when the initial contact is negative.
- 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 customers may also be an invaluable source of leads.
- Replace lost customers. Businesses move, close or are acquired. Buying needs change. Through no fault of their own, salespeople lose accounts. The best way to replace lost customers is to have a pipeline of prospects who can be looked upon as customers in the making.
- Recognize resistance to change. 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. 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.
- Give prospecting the same priority as meetings with important customers. 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.
- 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.
- Resist hitting a comfort level. Some salespeople become content with their lifestyle. They hit their own glass ceiling, calling on favorite customers and looking for an acceptable amount of new business. The entrepreneurial salesperson is never satisfied, always thinking and trying to grow and improve the business.
- Try to learn what the prospect does. Who are the prospect’s customers and competitors? Get information from web searches, annual reports, press releases and people who work at the prospect’s company.