Do you have a regular flow of new prospects? Are you opening relationships with potential customers daily? Are you regularly connecting with new people who might be potential clients? Or maybe you’re just wasting a lot of time barking up the wrong tree.
If you want a healthy sales funnel, you need effective prospecting. In order to get it, you need to get to the bottom of what sales prospecting actually is.
What is Prospecting?
By definition, prospecting is the act of looking for new possibilities. Where sales is concerned, it is the act of opening new relationships. It is not the act of working on existing prospects with whom you have already connected. That is actual selling, and that’s important, but it’s not prospecting. When you prospect for business, you are connecting with new people and opening up new relationships.
The Urgent Need for Daily Prospecting
Without daily prospecting, your sales funnel will dry up and your business may falter. It’s as simple as that. There will be a million distractions pulling you away from this essential part of your job, but none of them are more important than this key step to sales success. You need to consciously embrace, not just accept but actually embrace, the idea that prospecting is a must-do item every single working day of your life, and some of your days off as well.
Set aside 30 minutes every day and guard that time like your life depends upon it, because your business does. Despite all of the other responsibilities that make demands on your time, you must hold the time you set aside for prospecting sacred.
Prospecting Comes in Many Forms
The beauty of the modern world is that there are countless ways to open new relationships with people. Gone are the days when you had to go out of your way physically to meet a new person. Real-life networking still has its place, but social media has opened up a world of possibilities for meeting potential clients. Just be careful to be as genuine as you can on social media; that means finding common ground to begin building relationships, not asking for a sales call as soon as you connect.
Your connections will be more authentic if you make them in the way that you’re most comfortable with. You may prefer to make them via email, social media, direct mail, referrals that you ask for, or even cold calling (one of the most powerful and underused forms of communication). Over time you will learn which methods are most effective for you.
Planning for Prospecting
Sales expert Anthony Iannarino often talks about using scripts in sales, an idea that makes some people step back. They think of awful experiences they’ve had with call centers interrupting them at home while a person drones on, obviously reading, but that isn’t what Anthony is talking about. Writing a script for what you are going to say does not mean you call the person up and read it in a robotic manner. It means that you do a lot of preparation in order to get your message across.
You have approximately 10 seconds on that first call to convince your prospect that you can bring value; you must use it wisely. Writing a script, and memorizing it, will help you use the right words and say exactly what you want to say. Preparation using a script does not make you robotic; it makes you efficient and on target.
It’s important to remember what your goal is in the first call. It is not to sell something. It is to build a relationship and learn about your prospect. It is to get a commitment for a second call during which you will show the person that you can provide even more value and help fix problems.
Prospecting Does So Much More Than You Think
Having disciplined prospecting built into your daily schedule does so much more than bring you new opportunities. It also keeps you from wasting time on bad prospects. When you don’t have new opportunities regularly flowing in, you may try to convert bad prospects out of desperation. Even if you are successful, these bad prospects usually turn into bad customers.
If you step back and look at the big picture, the most important thing to remember is that regular prospecting keeps your business alive and healthy, because what every business needs to stay alive is new customers.
This post was originally published on digital.sap.com in November 2016.