Successful prospecting is something we all want, and yet most of us are terrified of it.
The idea of reaching out to people to earn their business can be scary. It's also one of the things most of us avoid doing at all costs.
How successful are you at prospecting? How often do you actually do it? Is it something you do daily, weekly, monthly or never?
It's been interesting to work with entrepreneurs and broach this topic. Coming from a corporate sales background, prospecting was an everyday activity. My first professional sales job was what I like to call a “dialing for dollars” position. It was a job requirement to make a certain number of outbound calls every day. My company tracked the number of calls I made.
When I managed a team of 23 salespeople, I focused heavily on prospecting. Every month a discussion was had with each sales rep about it. I actually pulled a report showing how many calls they were making each day as well as the duration of each call. Based on their activity and of course sales, not prospecting costs people their jobs. Sales is a sink or swim game.
Since entrepreneurs are their own boss, they rarely track or even hold themselves accountable for prospecting. It's rare to work with an entrepreneur who can tell me how many prospecting calls they make on a regular basis.
The entrepreneurs who are doing it seem to consistently make a few minor missteps and therefore can get discouraged easily.
Successful Prospecting: The Missteps of Prospecting
#1 Misstep: Not scheduling it.
It's easy to say you're going to prospect, however, when it's not on your calendar it doesn't get done. A few of my clients had whole days blocked out each week for prospecting, yet every week something got in the way. Instead of blocking out a whole day to prospect (which is frankly almost impossible for people to do), I encouraged them to block out 30 minutes or maybe 1 hour a week at the most. That way, they know at 10 am on Tuesday they're meant to be making prospecting calls.
My follow-up suggestion is that when you have to do something else during your allotted prospecting time, do it. Instead of beating yourself up or abandoning the idea completely, you just move on with your day. The next time your prospecting appointment pops up on your calendar, you sit down and do it. In the end, if you block out 40 hours of prospecting each month and never even do 10 minutes, it's a waste. However, if you block out 2 hours a month and you do even 30 minutes a month of prospecting, you're better off. Assigning yourself less time feels more manageable. You're more likely to actually prospect.
#2 Misstep: Not calling existing clients.
Too often people forget to circle back with former or even existing clients as a means of prospecting. It's so much easier to sell to people who already know, like, and trust you. It's also a much easier call to make. Your clients will be happy to hear from you. Keep in mind, you're the expert. It's up to you to make suggestions on what else they might need/want from you.
#3 Misstep: Not setting the next step.
So many people miss this step and I can guarantee it's costing you business. When you have a prospecting call and a person says, “Send me some information and I'll look it over.” Your response back can't be, “Ok, I'll send it over and you let me know if you're interested.” No, no, no. The proper response is, “Ok, I'll send it over to you. Let's go ahead and get a circle back call scheduled so I can answer any questions you might have and we can continue moving forward.”
Successful Prospecting Continued:
Without the next call scheduled, you'll waste time and energy wondering if you should call, is it too soon, what if they aren't interested, and this will discourage you. When you have a next call set up, both parties know what to expect. It also holds your feet to the fire because the person is expecting your call.
So, now it's up to you to put some time on your schedule for prospecting. If 30 minutes a week feels like a huge commitment, start with 10 minutes. The important part is you schedule it and it pops up each week as a reminder to do it.
Wishing you continued success this week.
Agree? Disagree? Additional comments or thoughts on this article? Please share.