As a kid I remember racing to the dinner table one evening hungry enough to eat a horse but my ravenous appetite quickly went south when I caught a whiff of what I considered to be the nastiest vegetable known to man…Brussels sprouts.
My head twitched, my nose wrinkled, and my lips curled as my mother rolled her eyes and said…”Eat yah vegetables Twome if you wanna grow up to big and strong like yah fatha.”
My father, a handsome and very successful executive, took one look at my pale and pouty face and said…”You know son, prospecting is a lot like eating Brussels sprouts. They don’t necessarily smell good but they’re good for you.”
Prospecting for new clients is a necessary function of the sales process so before you turn your nose up to prospecting and decide to dig in you’ll want to make some assessments and creat a game plan to make sure that your initial call will be a quality contact and not “dialing for dollars”.
Here are some thoughts and strategies that will help you to become more successful at prospecting.
Assess your current situation and ask yourself the following questions;
- What is my territory or market segment?
- Is my brand easily recognized by my prospective customer?
- Who is my competitive set and how are they selling against my brand/product/services?
- Am I experienced and successful at prospecting? What are my strengths/weaknesses?
- Do I continually have enough leads to generate business or do I have to supplement leads with additional prospecting?
- How much time do I have to devote to prospecting and can I commit to the process long-term?
- What are my sales goals? Are these numbers realistic and achievable?
- Seek out a mentor who is successful and holds to the same high standards that you do.
- There’s gold in your backyard. Start digging near your office first.
- Ask your existing customers for a testimonial or to refer you to other prospective customers.
- When networking be a good listener, ask open-ended questions, and get a business card.
- Qualify your prospect ranging from a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being best) and don’t pursue those that fall below 7.
- Create a script that gets you past the gate keeper and in touch with someone who writes the check.
- Resist selling on the first call. It’s an opportunity to get to know your prospect and to identify if your product or services meets his needs.
- If there is light at the end of your call do whatever it takes to arrange an appointment before you hang up.
- Don’t bad mouth your competitive set but be ready to share why your company/products/services are better.
- Don’t end your day with a prospect that says “No”.
- Oh, and eat your Brussels sprouts.
Here are some links and resources to help you with your prospecting.
- Google query – “Prospecting for New Business Leads”
- Client Prospecting for Creative Pros Who Hate Prospecting
- Better Prospecting with ACT
- Prospecting for New Clients is a Dirty, Critical Sales Function
Tom Costello is the CEO, Partner & Co-Founder of Groups International, a company that provides marketing, consultative services, and technology solutions to the group and leisure travel markets. Connect with him on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter or contact him by email.