Focus on Prospecting: Keep your colleagues close and your competitors closer

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Sales is a full-contact sport. It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know. Sound familiar? These clichés have so permeated society, they’re hardly noticed any more. But step back and think for a moment – how many things in your life, right now, would you have achieved without the help of one or two people?

You might say, I’ve done it all myself! Of course, you’ve worked really hard to get where you are, but a chance meeting with someone who knows someone, a word to the right assistant, or a referral from someone who trusts your abilities doesn’t negate that hard work – it just means you have played the game right. In this week’s Focus on Prospecting, we’ll look at Tip 8: Share prospects with other salespeople.

The importance of contacts in business

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It is impossible to run a business or make sales in isolation, which is why it’s really important to keep your network of people strong, and not be afraid to use those relationships to their best advantage.  There are going to be times when  you have the opportunity to share a lead with a colleague or even a competitor and you should absolutely consider doing it.

When it comes to sharing leads and prospects, we may be tempted to feel jealous, proprietal, even greedy.

Do any of these feel familiar:

– This is my contact, dammit, why should I share it with someone else?
– I worked hard to get this prospect, they should go to the same amount of effort!
– What have they ever done for me that I should give them a hot lead?
– But they do the same thing as me, I don’t want to lose the business!

The case for sharing prospects

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Sharing with someone in a different industry can be really advantageous. You will meet people in hundreds of different industries and whether or not you can use their product or service, someone out there can, and it could be your client. By recommending a reliable service provider, you not only help someone else make a sale, you become the go-to person for your client when they need just about anything.

Benefits:

1. You helped someone else make a sale, so they are far more likely to return the favor.
2. By recommending a reliable service provider, you become the go-to person for your client when they need just about anything.
3. If you really swing it right, you could get commission or a reduced price on the other guy’s product or service.

Top Tip: Don’t just tell your client or your colleague about each other, send them a handwritten letter of introduction. It’s not only memorable, but it’s a reminder of who helped them!

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Sharing with someone in the same industry might seem counter-intuitive. Why on earth would you want to lose a sale to someone else by making it easy for them? Well, there are actually several reasons:

– The prospect could be too large for you to handle at the moment, but your competitor is set up for it.
– You might be simply too busy to handle their requirements at the moment, but your competitor is struggling to find work.
– The project might need you to collaborate with someone in your industry.

Benefits:
1. Passing work on to a competitor makes it much more likely that they will do the same for you if situations become reversed.
2. The client gets the work done, and you build a reputation for going out of your way to help them, even when it doesn’t benefit you directly.
3. In the case of collaboration, you get to control who you work with and to what extent they are involved.

Top Tip: After a successful collaboration, don’t forget to send both your client and your competitor a handwritten thank-you card. This will cement you in their minds as the person to call in future.

When you open up to the idea that sharing prospects and hot leads is a good thing, you’ll find things becoming just that little bit easier for you in business.

Don’t forget to let us know in the comments if there’s something you’d like us to focus on in the next Focus on Prospecting!

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