There are a lot more sources of prospects these days. The trick is refining your approach.
In the sea of information that is the internet and the ever growing networked communities we live in, you could essentially get a sales lead from anywhere. In principle, this sounds great. You always have someone to call on or prospect to.
However having too many choices can often lead to feelings of being overwhelmed by too much information. And when you have too much information this can lead to indecision, and subsequently inaction. And inaction is the number one killer of any sales prospecting strategy.
So where do we start to sort out where we locate prospects? Besides the internet, I find locating prospects come for the following areas as well:
A name given to you as a lead. Choosing your time to ask for referrals is important. Wait until your customer has been able to judge you and your ability to meet and exceed their expectations. A good referral program is highly effective if you have a proven track record of keeping promises and providing outstanding solutions and service.
A variant of the referral technique. It involves also asking for names; the salesperson asks for a note or letter of introduction to the prospect. This is most effective when prepared as a testimonial from a very satisfied customer who holds you in high esteem.
Centres of influence
Centre of influence refers to a well-known, influential person who can help you prospect and gain leads. For example, accountants, lawyers, business owners, teachers, politicians. First gain this person as a satisfied client and then solicit their help. You can also consider joining a community or social organisations to access centres of influence.
Community groups, business groups and professional associations can be a valuable source of prospects. These groups generally meet on a regular basis, providing you with an opportunity to build relationships. However, to make this approach beneficial, you must 1: set contact goals for each meeting, and 2: you need to communicate to the group what you do, offer assistance and make positive contributions. If other members see your involvement as being purely self-serving, this technique will not be beneficial.
Other salespeople can be a great source of prospects’ names and valuable information (this excludes confidential information!) about prospects. The key to this approach is reciprocity – “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”. Establish relationships with non-competing suppliers and consider going out of your way to offer information to a non-competing salesperson about an opportunity you know of. The favour may well be returned when you least expect it.
This is where you consider cultivating visible and influential accounts that will influence other buyers. These accounts can give you credibility and make you attractive to other buyers.
NB: Just make sure you are clear about the types of customers you need to call on as part of your sales plan and strategy.
Sue Barrett is founder and managing director of BARRETT, a boutique consultancy firm. Sue is an experienced consultant, public speaker, coach and facilitator. Sue and her team are best known for their work in creating high performing people and teams. Key to their success is working with the whole person and integrating emotional intelligence, skill, knowledge, behaviour, process and strategy via effective training and coaching programs. Click here to find out more
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