As a business owner, salesperson what 3 wishes would you want to happen? It is
- More Clients
- More Repeat Buyers
- More Referrals
For these wishes to happen, what is that one skill that can help you the most? It is about prospecting. Prospecting skill that helps to generate consistent appointments which in turn leads to sales.
Whether you are selling a enterprise software, technology solution, or running own franchise businesses, having appointments is the first step towards acquiring clients.
Towards this, prospecting becomes a key skill required in many businesses.
What is prospecting?
Prospecting as the ability to trigger interest or create demand for your products or services versus finding people already looking to buy something. Prospecting is one of the important skills, and one of the most underdeveloped and misunderstood.
Do you know the origin of prospecting, is the activity of searching for gold, oil, or other valuable substances on or under the surfaces of the Earth?
There’s an important distinction between prospecting and handling inquiries. Prospecting is for those buyers who are not actively looking for your solution. This requires to trigger and creates interest where there currently is none.
On the other hand, inquiry handling or polling is to look out for buyers who are actively looking for a solution.
Both are important activities but require different approaches and skills.
Polling helps to find opportunities in your active or looking territory.
Prospecting helps bring opportunities from the latent or not looking segment.
Prospecting is to creating interest in buyers
Let us take an example, the passenger car market. We can divide the buyers broadly into 3 categories based on their current buying stage. In the universe of buyers,
- Firstly there exists a set of buyers who have made a decision to buy the car and are actively looking for a car by visiting various dealers.
- Secondly, there is a larger set who are still in the consideration phase of which car to go far, when, what budget, etc and
- Finally, there is even larger set which is undecided or not ready to buy yet.
The below picture from The Ulitmate Sales Machine gives, in most markets, there is just 3% of buyers who are ready to buy the solution and 7% open to buying but not looking.
Then 30% of the buyer is not thinking about the solution at all and then the rest 60% is divided b/w not interested or do not want.
Prospecting is mainly to target the 2nd and 3rd sets of who are either not looking solution or not thinking about the solution to actually look for a solution.
To do this effectively what is required is the ability to find these buyers in the market, and trigger and create interests in what you sell. This is key for any salesperson.
While trying to create an interest, focus on creating curiosity first, not on the immediate action you want the prospect to take.
If your prospecting activity is not giving results means, you are not generating curiosity in your buyers.
Instead too many times salespeople create tension by asking the prospect either to know about their company, to listen to the product presentations, to schedule an appointment or to get the order in the very first interaction.
The salesperson hasn’t earned the right to expect these to be permitted by the prospect who is still not looking for a solution.
Instead the salesperson must focus on creating curiosity.
Prospect must be curious, ready to know more about a product or the service of Salesperson.
Common challenges in prospecting
Prospecting is one of the most important disciplines in which salespeople can engage, Nobody denying the importance of prospecting in sales.
Everyone should know that without sales prospecting, there would not be new leads. And without new leads, sales shrink and businesses suffer.
But inspite of this what we commonly find is prospecting is seen as too big a challenge and many salespeople prefer not to do this role.
They prefer to meet ready buyers then engage with a buyer who is not ready. The reason is
- Spending time in the wrong places and wasting time.
- Not having a multi-modal structured approach to prospecting
- Lacking the discipline and time management to do consistently
- Not migrating to the latest tools and techniques which works for current market
How much time is recommended for prospecting? There isn’t a specific amount of time is to be spent, it varies on your pipeline and business you belong.
What are the ways for prospecting opportunities
Ok, now that we know why prospecting is key, what is prospecting and challenges, let us explore some of the ways to do prospecting.
What’s the first thing comes to your mind when we use the term “prospecting?” ideally the first word will come out is “cold calling.”
Cold calling has worked for ages but in today’s world, the result from cold calling is very low for most businesses. It doesn’t mean cold calling doesn’t work, but there are far better methods exists which give superior results.
Lets us discuss some of the different methods for prospecting here follows:
Networking is an informal way whereby people with common interests assist each other. In today’s world of interconnectivity, collaboration, and a real openness to sharing if salespeople aren’t part of networking activities, they should be and it’s really very important activity for salespeople.
Key elements of Networking opportunities:
i. Existing customers
Use your existing current database customers as a resource for targeting future opportunities. Build a good rapport so that you can ask for additional problems they might have so that you find an opportunity to support them.
You probably don’t ask current(satisfied) customers for referrals enough.
Most of our customers attend seminars, conferences and user groups and have built up friendship and acquaintances with people in similar occupations as theirs. Hoping that there is no conflict of interest, ask them to refer you to other people in their network.
iii. Industry Associations
Industrial Associations are designed to share industry trends, industry business issues, and technology-related topics, and so on among their members. Being a member of associations be a valuable conduit for potential opportunities.
iv. Social events
Walk into a room where you know no one, find a chance so that they’re going to welcome a conversation. Introduce yourself, You can even say something like “Hi. I’m Abhi. I don’t know anyone here. How about you?”, Try to understand the nature of the business he or she belongs too, exchange your business cards.
Trade shows are one of the best places to meet your target audience. However, this B2B prospecting method tends to be one of the most expensive types of sales and marketing.
Start a conversation about business issues that focus on specific capabilities you provide to help solve specific that business problems and be ready to discuss business-level reference stories.
Social Selling (LinkedIn, Facebook)
This is becoming one of the most important channels to prospect for high-end clients. The ability to discover potential clients, build connections, provide value before asking appointments is an extremely powerful way to prospect.
But a lot of salespeople don’t know how to prospect on LinkedIn and end up being too pushy and sales oriented which latent buyers resist.
We have put up a free article to download on the mastering social selling. To know more click here
Effective prospecting will lead you to find a good-fit customer for your business. Solves the challenges and pain points or meets the unmet need of the customer. Happy prospecting.