If you hate prospecting, you’re not alone.
But it’s the only consistent way to identify qualified prospects you can move through your sales funnel so you can ultimately convert them into profitable customers.
If sales are the lifeblood of a business, prospecting is the process that keeps it flowing.
But even if you’ve been in the selling game for some time, finding an effective “go to” prospecting strategy that is easy to follow can be elusive.
Part of the problem is there is no “one-size-fits-all” prospecting approach you can learn and use over and over again.
Different situations call for different approaches.
But here are 7 core prospecting strategies you can use to boost your prospecting efforts so you can convert more qualified prospects into customers.
Strategy #1: Prospect Daily!
The first way to start overcoming your dislike of prospecting is accepting the fact that without it, you aren’t in business.
You simply MUST bring on new customers. That means constantly finding and starting new relationships.
Because prospecting is so crucial to your success, set aside the time and the energy to prospect every day.
I know. I know. But that’s what your strongest competitors are doing. Why? They know potential customers are out there – 24/7.
Your pipeline needs to be filled with a constant stream of people who can buy what you’re selling and the fact is, regular prospecting is the only way to make that happen.
Write out a weekly plan that includes time to prospect every day.
First thing in the morning, while you’re fresh, is probably the best time to prospect before the day grabs hold of you and pulls you away from this vital business-building activity.
Strategy #2: Eliminate Distractions
Block out ANYTHING you don’t need to prospect. If you use the internet to prospect, make sure to limit your online activity to prospecting-related activity only. No surfing. No email checking. And turn your phone off!
Let everyone know you are on radar silence.
Put a “Do Not Disturb!” on your door and make sure everyone respects it. If you work in a cubicle, stick up a sign. Do anything you can to let people know you are not available.
If you don’t take your prospecting efforts seriously, no one else will. Be committed.
Strategy #3: Don’t Limit Your Methods
When you’re prospecting your primary objective is to identify potential new business opportunities. Period. And there’s no one way to do it. There are many to choose from that can help you achieve your sales objectives.
Focus your time and energy on the approaches that work best for you. If you’re great on the phone, keep going. But that doesn’t mean ignoring other strategies. For example, email marketing, inbound marketing, networking, trade shows and conferences, direct mail, social networking, or referrals can also be effective tools for you.
A good way to narrow down what works best is to write down all of the potential prospecting methods you can think of. Plan out time to explore each method along with goals for how many prospects you want to gain from your effort.
For instance, you might attend one networking event each month with the objective of identifying two new prospects.
Keep track of your results and focus on the area that generates the greatest return on your investment of time.
Strategy #4: Use Scripts
What you say to a prospect can mean the difference between attracting a qualified lead or missing out on a selling opportunity.
That’s why you should leave nothing to chance. Use a prepared script. This will help eliminate saying something that will push your prospects away.
And just because you’re using a script, it doesn’t mean you have to sound like it.
Think of it this way…If the idea of using a script seems foreign, it shouldn’t be. You are already using a script when you talk to prospects. It’s just that you’ve been using certain words for so long that you’ve become comfortable with them.
There’s no need to read them because you’ve internalized them
The problem? There might be a more effective way to speak with prospects.
Carefully choose the words that you use and make observations about what is and what isn’t working.
Strategy #5: Focus on your objective
Effectiveness in prospecting can be improved by simply focusing on the primary reason you’re doing it in the first place – to identify new, mutually beneficial relationships.
Don’t overthink your prospecting objectives. Focus on scheduling an appointment or consultation. Leave the in-depth needs analysis, presentation or talking about the merits of your product or service for the next stage of your selling process.
Avoid slipping into sales mode UNLESS your prospect invites you too.
Your prospecting goal is to identify whether or not there MIGHT be an opportunity to create value and do something together.
A successful outcome in prospecting is almost always an appointment or opportunity to engage in further discussion.
Strategy #6: Embrace Cold Calling
No doubt about it. Cold calling is still one of the fastest ways to open relationships and get appointments.
It might surprise you to learn that most top salespeople understand and use this effective prospecting strategy.
Although they are equally as effective at other forms of prospecting, they never let their cold calling skills wane.
When done regularly and well, it offers the greatest return on investment. Don’t ignore it.
Strategy #7: Stay In Touch
No matter how good you become at prospecting, you’re still going to face rejection. Probably a lot more than you want.
But keep in mind, building business relationships takes time. See your plan for prospecting success as longer-term. Consistently pursue clients and customers you WANT to work with.
Whether you phone, email, send thank you cards, free guides or useful online links – your constant attempts to find a way to create some value will add up over time.
Here’s a post I wrote about how to follow up and stay top of mind.
Some of the best relationships and the biggest deals take the longest time to win. Consistent nurturing of these relationships will open up opportunities for you over time.
Show them you aren’t going to disappear like others; that you are truly interested in and committed to working with them; that you are a professional who executes well, and that you are determined.
These are the winning attributes that people look for in salespeople and partners.
Although prospecting is not an exact science, you can consistently hit your sales objectives by investing in the right prospecting strategies and activities.
When you do that, you increase your chances of selling success.