Do you take time to really think about why you are calling a prospect or a client? Do you reflect on how effective you have been after the call?
Making prospecting calls to new prospects and existing clients is still one of the most important sales and business development activities you can do on a daily basis.
Even with all the electronic communication and marketing options at hand most businesses still need to have someone prospecting for them to build and forge real business relationships.
Top performing sales people make sure prospecting is part of their daily repertoire.
Prospecting is a process and as a business development person you will need to do it over and over again – approximately 500-1,000 times in a year at least!
However, most people don’t prospect effectively and many find it a daunting experience. A lot has to do with people complaining about receiving “annoying” prospecting calls, but this mostly happens because the salesperson is not prospecting effectively. They are usually calling and imposing themselves and their agenda on others with no regard for the other person and their wants or needs.
Prospecting Rule # 1
If you want to connect with another person and have them interested in you and what you have to offer, you must first be interested in them.
By contrast, if a person rang you, explained (very briefly) who they were, showed some respect for your time commitments by asking you if you were in a position to speak to them then or later, and then quickly and respectfully stated why they made the effort to call you (all stated from your perspective and for your benefit, of course) then you might give them a minute just to see if what they were calling about was worthwhile in engaging in a discussion or not.
From the customer or prospect’s perspective, there must be a valid reason for them to want to speak to you. Something that will make their lives better in some way.
Sure you want to work with them because they may fit your target market or may be a great client to get on board for revenue, reputation, etc – but these are all your reasons and are all directed at how you will benefit.
Instead, think about why a customer or prospect would want to speak to you. Do some research into their business and think about why they would want to take the time to connect with you. In other words put yourself in their shoes first.
Yes, you could be their savior, but if they don’t know they need saving and you don’t position yourself to find out if they want to be saved or not then you are in trouble.
From the first phone call to the thank you after your first meeting and subsequent meetings, each contact must add value to the client. Each contact must have a valid reason behind it.
The phone call is typically the first point of contact with a potential client. In preparation for that prospecting call, you need to have two things ready:
1. A call objective – Your call objective is your reason for wanting to make contact. Ask yourself why you want to connect with this person/division/company. What do you hope to gain or achieve by making this contact? For example, you have heard there is a new project on the agenda and you would like to make contact with the decision maker to see if you can have the opportunity to be considered for that project, or you want to connect with the influencer who may give you an introduction to the key decision maker.
2. A valid business reason (VBR) – A VBR must be meaningful and relevant to the prospect. It should be a reason why the prospect should want to speak to you further. It must be of value and importance to the prospect and must answer the “What’s in it for me” from your prospects’ perspective.
VBRs are not usually static, they tend to be dynamic and current. They should be updated depending on the current business climate, market trends, etc. VBRs require sales people to get their heads out of their products and look at the markets and the broader world they operate in.
Here a few different categories that may help you generate VBRs:
- Competitor reality
- Timing and seasonal fit
- Category success
- New location/Expansion
- Broadening their market focus
- Referral – personal intro
- Site visitor fit
- New concept/idea
Listen to any of those annoying prospecting calls people complain about and you’ll find those calls don’t have VBRs.
Prospecting Rule # 2
To generate effective VBRs, get your head out of your products or services and into the minds of your prospects and customers.
Look at your customer or prospect’s business and see what’s on their mind or what’s happening in their market and you will have no shortage of VBRs. Role playing VBRs with your team is a great way to develop the ideas and skill of applying them effectively. This will have a dramatic impact on increasing your phone prospecting success.
Before you can engage in any conversation with your customer or prospect, you have to give them a reason to want to talk you.
Remember everybody lives by selling something.
Sue Barrett is the founder and CEO of the innovative and forward thinking sales advisory and education firm, Barrett and the online sales education & resource platform www.salesessentials.com. Striving to develop and deliver better sales standards to help people and businesses sell better, Sue is a Sales Philosopher, Activist, Strategist, Speaker, Trainer and Adviser. Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, blog and e-books