If you work in outbound sales you are involved in prospecting. It’s one of the harder parts of a sales job. Not because the work itself is necessarily grueling, but prospecting is extra weight. It slows you down. Sales is like being a point guard. Once you are on fire you stay on fire and keep taking shots, but the minute you get iced and your flow is stopped. You lose it. Prospecting can be as cold as ice. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are some effective ways to prospect daily and still maintain the inertia to keep your confidence and sales energy up all throughout the day.
Use the right tools. There are hundreds of tools out there that help in the prospecting process but you don’t need them all, you just need the right ones. Don’t worry about which service gives you the most elaborate information, figure out what are the key components you need and determine which software helps you manage it the quickest. For example I used ZoomInfo to determine a company size and general job titles, I used LinkedIn to confirm all my information and SalesLoft to organize my prospects. It’s the most efficient way to handle my lead information. I have to use these tools in tandem for it to be an effective process. There are other tools like KiteDesk and Rapportive that can be helpful, but can also be over kill. Figure out the most efficient process with the tools at your disposal.
Prospect at the right time. There are low hours in any sales function, usually it’s during lunch time. If you need to prospect out the entire sales organization of a company, try waiting until 12 to do it. Make a note of the company and maybe a starting point but move on to other leads that don’t require much research. Then at the right time do all the lead research when you know that it’s an effective time to do it. That way you can be calling and selling during the time people are answering and you can be prospecting during the time they are eating or are in meetings.
Use key players to get to decision makers. You may be looking for the VP of sales, but you might not get much with him if you don’t know anything about his sales force or his employees. It can be a lot more effective to go into a conversation saying “I spoke with one of your managers Bob Smith and he said I should talk to you about this” rather than “Hey I need to talk to you about this”. Figure out what systems they use and what processes they have in place by the people who are willing to talk to you. That way when you go in for the close on the big fish you can come prepared. “I know you use ‘X’ CRM and your sales force is this big which is why I’d like to show you what we do because you are perfect for our service.” They will be more willing to talk because you’ve done the research. Remember these people are warding off hundreds of sales calls a day. You need to rise above the film and effective preparation is key.
Mange your time. It can be very tempting to spend a lot of time prospecting a potential client looking for the perfect angle but often it just ends up being a waste of time. One decent name drop or connection is usually enough to merit a conversation, and once you are talking you can sell. Remember that all you are trying to do is get the door open. Effective prospecting can take a customer from cracking the door to letting you in the house but it doesn’t take much. You don’t need every bit of information about your prospect, you just need enough to peak his interest.
Be organized. This can be the differentiator between a good salesman and a great salesman. Being on top of your notes and client information will keep you always on your toes. Create a system where you track information and have it at the ready. Whether that is sticky notes or an excel spreadsheet just have something that you can reference.
Prospecting might not be the most fun part of selling but it’s one of the most important. Think about yourself in any sales situation. If someone can relate to you about anything think about how much more willing you are to talk to them. Prospecting is a skill and it’s one that if mastered can take your sales to the next level.