Any good salesperson is going to have a degree of success in making sales once they have an appointment set up with a potential client. Making those appointments with hot leads is also simply a matter of numbers and timing.
Finding prospective clients, on the other hand, can be a daunting task, even for experienced salespeople. And once you’ve found them, how do you grab their interest? Here are our 17 tips for successful prospecting.
1. Create customer-type target lists
Whatever product or service you are selling, there’s a good chance that it will work better for certain industries, or that different industries will use it differently. Focus on one industry type at a time, create a script for dealing with companies in that group and spend some time targeting them.
Make sure you know what your prospective client is up to. Any recent deals they’ve made, issues they’ve had or expansion plans they’ve made public could be a perfect opportunity for you to offer them a solution.
3. Maintain a social media presence
As I said before maintaining a strong social media presence can be a powerful tool in your arsenal when attracting clients to you. By positioning yourself as an expert in your field you will find it a lot easier to create interest in prospective clients.
4. Talk about what you do
Not every interaction has to be a sales pitch, but talk freely about what you do with people you meet. You don’t have to go for the hard sell, but this is a good way to generate warm and even hot leads. You never know who you could be speaking to, who they may know that could use your services, or where a simple conversation could lead you.
5. Make it easy for potential clients to contact you
If people find it difficult to reach you, they will go to someone else. If a potential client has gotten to the point where they are contacting service providers, they are a hot lead and the easiest sell you will make. Therefore, make sure that your cell phone is always charged and that you have a voicemail option for when you can’t take a call. Sign up for Whatsapp, make sure you always read and answer your emails, have a contact form on your website… whatever it takes, make sure they can reach you easily.
6. Get contact info and maintain a warm leads list
If anyone shows interest in what you do, get contact info. If they know someone who might be interested, get contact info. If they say, “I’ll get them to call you”, get contact info! A warm lead list is worth its weight in gold and is something you can milk for all it’s worth.
7. Follow up
I cannot stress this point enough. Following up is absolutely vital, no matter what point in the sales process you’re at. If you cold call someone and they ask you to call back, do it. If there’s even a hint that someone might be interested, follow up. Even if you’ve had no response at all from your handwritten prospecting postcard blitz , that doesn’t mean they’re not interested; it just means they’re waiting for you to call.
8. Share prospects with other salespeople
You are bound to know salespeople in other industries, especially if you have been in the game for a few years – former colleagues, people you’ve met at conferences, even people you’ve encountered in waiting rooms.
You may have a hot lead on a client for a product you don’t sell, but that someone you know does, or know someone who offers a complementary service to yours. Pass on the lead – it’s not hurting your sales figures any and it will make that salesperson much more likely to return the favor.
This ties in with the previous point – get to know other salespeople, industry players and prospective clients at any and all networking events, conferences, expos and launches. You can also use social media to its greatest advantage here – LinkedIn groups, industry forums and so on.
10. Use different methods
Cold calling is great, but it’s just one method of contacting prospective clients. Don’t be afraid to get creative here with interactive emails, attention-grabbing desk drops and one-of-a-kind handwritten introductory letters.
11. Learn how to cold call
Cold calling is more than just a job; it’s an art. It takes real skill and practice to make a successful cold call, all while not sounding like you’re reading from a script or trying to make the hard sell within the first few seconds. There’s a lot to be discussed on this point, so never fear, this will be looked at in a lot more detail in a future article.
12. Don’t just move on
If a prospect doesn’t immediately go for your pitch, it can be tempting to just drop it and move on. Yes, at some point you may need to do this, but learn to tell the difference between someone who simply has no use for your product and someone who is busy or not in the market right now. Keep detailed records of your interactions so that you can follow up with even slightly warm leads.
13. Check out your prospective clients’ legitimacy
It’s not just big corporate clients who will be in the market for your product or service; start-ups, small companies, mid-size groups will also need you. It pays to make sure that any company you’re approaching is legit and a stable prospect, no matter how big or small.
14. Ask your existing clients for referrals
Don’t be afraid to ask your existing clients for referrals. If they are happy with your product and after-sales eservice, ask them if they know anyone who could benefit from it, whether it’s in the same or a totally different industry.
15. Keep up with your admin
At the prospecting stage, you’re not going to have a lot of admin in the way of invoices and order sheets. However, you need to be on top of any related admin, like contacting referrals, following up on your direct mailers, sending and answering emails. If you let this slide, no matter how good your cold calling technique is, you’re going to lose track of who you’ve contacted and whether or not they were a convertible lead.
16. Keep your contact appointments
If you’ve promised to email someone a quote “this afternoon”, send it before you leave the office; if they’re expecting a call on Friday, make the call on Friday.. If someone has emailed you, contacted you through your website, or left a voicemail for you, get back to them and do it soon. There is nothing preventing them from sending out five emails to five suppliers and going with the first person to get back to them.
17. Don’t let hot leads get cold
There’s nothing quite as frustrating as contacting a product or service provider who seemingly couldn’t be bothered to get back to you. I’ve often been known to lament: “don’t they want my money? I’m a guaranteed sale! Don’t they want those?” If you have managed to put yourself in a position where people are coming to you, get back to them as soon as possible and be ready to pitch them, send a quote and make an immediate sale.
Prospecting is by far the most difficult part of the sales process, but if you can master the art, you will have a long and successful sales career. Over the next few weeks, we’ll go a little deeper into some of the more critical points highlighted here. As always, feel free to let us know in the comments if there’s anything specific you’d like us to focus on.