There are only four ways to generate new potential sales opportunity:
- Marketing activities to generate prospects who will pick up the telephone and call you
- Contacting existing customers or your circle of influence for referrals
- Face-to-face or social networking/web 2.0 efforts
While all four of these types of activities will generate leads for your business only one is directly under your control. The first three of the listed activities are essentially passive in that once you undertake the activity you then must wait for the prospect to come to you. Because you have to wait for the results (prospects coming to you) these processes also take longer. When you pick up the telephone to contact a prospect directly, however, you are able to go to that prospect and initiate a conversation that can turn into a relationship which turns into a sale.
In today’s economy, prospecting is also one of the most economical ways to generate new business. It does not require expenditures in new equipment or infrastructure or staffing. All you need is your list and a telephone. When done well, prospecting is a direct, targeted, efficient and effective way to generate new business.
That said, here is your 2009 prospecting Checklist:
1. Target your market. Answer the questions:
• “Out of everyone in the entire world who may buy my products or services, who is most likely to buy my products and services?”
• “Who is most likely to buy a lot of my products or services and then come back to buy more?”
The answers might be types of companies, a particular industry, the size of company in employees or revenue…. Or the answer might be the types of individuals, their age, where they live, their level of education…. The bottom line is that that more specific you are about your market, the easier it will be to find qualified prospects and the more they will resonate with your message. And, by the way, to be effective you need to target your market for any type of marketing or prospecting activity, not just for prospecting.
2. Create your message. On a cold call you have approximately 10-30 seconds to grab and hold your prospect’s attention. And, bear in mind, it is harder and harder to get people on the telephone these days. It is therefore imperative that you craft your message before you start making calls. Winging it simply does not work. Figure out how you will introduce yourself, the key points you wish to make and the goal of your conversation. Your script does not have to be word for word, bullet points will do. Figure out answers to the objections and/or questions you are bound to hear. Write it all down.
Make sure that you write your script the way you speak. Written English and spoken English are different and if you write a script in written English and then say it, you will sound phony. If you have a hard time crafting your script in spoken English try recording yourself and then writing it down.
3. Practice out loud. If you are new to prospecting or uncomfortable with prospecting, practice your script out loud. Do some role playing with friends and/or colleagues. Call your voice mail and record yourself. The idea is to become comfortable with the words and the approach. Once you are comfortable you can simply be yourself, say what you have to say and most importantly, listen to what your prospect has to say.
4. Make phone calls. Nothing happens without action. Commit to making a certain number of dials every day or spending a certain amount of time every day. Put that commitment in your calendar and do it. Set yourself up to succeed by making your commitment realistic. It is best to make a small commitment and do it every day. Successful prospecting is not about making one phone call (or even sitting down one day to make 100 phone calls) it is about making many new contacts over time.
5. Track your results. If you are not tracking, you do not know what works. This is true for prospecting and every other type of marketing or prospecting activity.
For prospecting you want to track Dials, Completed Calls (meaning that you actually speak with the decision-maker) Appointments and then how many of those Appointments turn into Sales.
Tracking will tell you if the list you are using is a good one. Tracking will tell you whether particular approach works in a particular market. If you change approaches, tracking will enable you to know which one works better. If you have hired someone to make calls for you, tracking will enable you to tell if they’re doing their job and how well they’re doing their job.