Guidelines for Prospecting
There are no
hard and fast
rules as to the processes different sales organizations use to prospect
from new business.
In some companies, prospecting is done on the outside sales level.
Those tasked with the majority of sales activities are also responsible
for mining their territory for new
business. In other organizations, telesales teams actively pursue
new business and funnel qualified prospects to account managers
and other sales reps.
Other companies rely on the web, print advertising or other means
to generate inbound leads that can be distributed based on a variety
of different methods.
For the time
being, we will assume that those sales
professionals reading this module are tasked with prospecting
duties. Rather than relying on others in an organization to provide
them with prospects, they must hunt in their own territory to generate
new business. Listed below are five general
guidelines that will make prospecting easier.
- Make Prospecting Part of Your Routine
– Some sales professionals set aside an hour each day to prospect
for new business. Others set aside one day a week to focus on
making calls and setting new appointments. Whatever works best
for you, make sure that prospecting is something that is planned
and done on a regular basis. You may choose to prospect every
morning from 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM or every Monday, Wednesday and
Friday at 1:00 PM. Find a schedule that works for you and stick
with it. Just as a basketball player must continuously practice
to maintain his edge, so must a sales professional continuously
prospect to keep his or her sales edge. Without regular prospecting,
sales numbers will inevitably shrink.
- Use Tools To Aid the Process –
When prospecting, make sure you have a solid tool set to make
as effective as possible. Don’t ad lib your way through the opening
moments of a call.
Have a “script” handy to help guide your initial remarks. Learn
your script backwards and forwards so you can deliver
it naturally. You’ll eventually be able to modify it on the
fly based on your situation.
- Take Notes – The possibility exists
that you’ll be talking to a lot of people. Keep
track of what is being said via a contact manager. CRM tools
like Siebel, web-based systems like Salesforce.com or others like
ACT! and Goldmine are all helpful. These systems allow you to
stay on top of your opportunities and track sales.
- Stay Above the Fray – As you talk
to new prospects, avoid “trash talking” the competition. Sell
customers on your company. Use benefit
statements to your advantage and sell them on your strengths.
Any assumptions about how the competition doesn’t stack up should
be left to the prospect.
- Roll With the Punches – Part of
prospecting is rejection
– lots of rejection. You’ll have to grow some thick skin and learn
not to take things personally. When a prospects says they’re not
interested and hangs up, deal with it and move on. There’s no
point dwelling on rejection. It won’t do you any good.
guidelines and the prospecting process will become easier to manage.
Eventually, it will become a natural part of your day or week –
something that needs to be done along with proposals, paperwork,
conference calls and all the other activities that take up your