prospecting in modern selling

How powerful Prospecting in Modern Sales gives you a competitive advantage?

To know how powerful prospecting in modern sales gives you an advantage over your competition, you need to look at the modern buyer first and then at an interesting sales statistic.

1. Buyers nowadays are way more powerful and in control than the traditional buyer ever was. Even before they connect with the salesperson of a company, they know a lot about your product and your competition. They have read and heard a lot about you using search and social media.

2. Now let us look at one insightful statistic about prospecting ..

At least 50% of your prospects are not a good fit for what you sell.

If you combine the two, you can think of the following possibilities –

  1. Your reputation on the web and social media can make or break your sales growth.
  2. Selling to the prospects who are not a good fit, can make your numbers in short term but will hamper your business in long term.
  3. Knowing who to sell is critical especially from long term perspective.
  4. Even after all the research that the prospects do, they may not be reaching the best product or service providers.
  5. So, modern sales is more about knowing whom to sell and helping the prospects find the solutions they will need/love with your offerings.

This brings us to the next question ..

Why prospecting in modern sales has become far more important than you imagine? 

Prospecting is about finding the customers who are right for you and vice versa.

If you carefully read the 5 insights about modern selling, you will find the following 3 reasons compelling enough to explain the rising importance of prospecting in this technology-driven world where information is easy to access and consume.

  1. Because you want to serve the customers whom you can provide maximum value,
  2. Because you want the customers whom you can manage well
  3. Because you want the customers who in turn will spread word about you in the market. This drives most valuable referrals for business and helps quality lead generation.

This, by the way, is central for a simple age-old business growth strategy which even the best in the business like Elon Musk follow and preach. The strategy has 4 stages –

  1. Know your customer well
  2. Build a product or service that gives them a lot of great experiences
  3. Sell the product first to those who need it the most
  4. Let the word of mouth build your business

Now that we know why prospecting is so important for business success, let see what will happen if you don’t do it well.

What happens if you don’t do prospecting properly? 

  1. You will invariably waste a lot of time pitching the product, wasting a lot of your energy and finally not closing enough sales. 
  2. The customers you may win, may turn out to be unsatisfied customers wasting a ton of your time and spreading bad word about you in the market. 
  3. You may invariably make a lot of people in the market angry – because your calls or communications will seem irrelevant or a spam to them. 

Now, what happens if you do it well?

  1. It helps you focus your energy, time and resources on the prospects that may be your best possible customers. 
  2. it will increase your conversion ratio in sales – boosting your morale about your ability to sell. 
  3. The sales conversations with prospects will become more interesting. Hence you will feel more meaningful in what you are doing. 
  4. The customers you will close will stay with you for longer time and spread the word for you.

It is easy to see that taking prospecting seriously is the way ahead if you are serious about the long-term health of your sales and business.

95% of sales professionals do not take prospecting seriously and there lies a competitive advantage for you.

However, prospecting can sometimes feel very stressful. It can drain your energy.

So let us see how do we make it interesting.

14 tips to make prospecting fun

  1. Be very careful about selecting whom you want to speak with, even before you make your first call. Work on solid understanding of your customer persona. More is not better in sales! 
  2. Be more present and focus on first building emotional connection – be non traditional. That means, avoid the stuff that most of the the sales people do in the market – like speaking with a script, keeping the focus on trying to sell right from first call, starting each call the same way, being too formal in the conversation – essentially avoid being a typical sales person. Think of how you would connect with new people purely for friendship. Think of the language you will use and observations you will do. Essentially it is a fine art of finding the right balance for you between being informal and professional at the same time. Personally, I hardly start my calls with lines like, “Hello, may I speak with Yash?”. I many times start with call with simple lines like “Is it Yash?” – This is what is called as breaking the pattern. It makes the prospect more curious while you show a certain level of confidence with such informal starts. 
  3. Select a specific time in a day – when you build a habit of calling the leads every day. This way you reduce the will power that generally everyone in Sales spends simply pushing themselves to get started with prospecting calls. As each day passes, this becomes a routine and so your body and mind are already prepared to take the effort at the same time every day, even before the prospecting begins. Think how you do not need to think when to brush your teeth any more. It is because of the habit you built since the childhood. Brushing was stressful and even painful initially when as a child you start doing it. But slowly as soon as you get up, without even thinking you start brushing, even while you are half sleep. 
  4. Select whom you are going to reach a day before – typically around the end of the previous work day. This removes one more friction at the time of daily calling – the friction of the effort that can go in selecting the leads to call! 
  5. Take a break every 20 minutes for 5 minutes. Use the pomodoro technique. Generally all of us get tired or fatigued in 20-25 minutes of continuous effort. 5-10 minutes of break after it recharges us. 
  6. Use humour wherever you can in your conversations. It increases the energy of you and your prospect on the calls. It also helps the prospect open up with you quickly. More importantly, you start feeling that talking with strangers can be fun. And you look forward to doing it more and more! 
  7. Change your posture – sometimes you can sit, sometimes you can stand, sometimes you can even walk a bit (if you have enough space) – this removes some monotony. Keeps you alert. 
  8. Know that you are going to hear a “No” most of the times, even before you start your daily prospecting. Too many sales people take the “No” from the prospect to their heart. They feel as if the prospect is rejecting them. This, however, is a big misconception. The prospect is saying “no” to your product or your service. The rejection from prospect can even be because they do not have the money or strong need to buy what you are selling, even if your product or service is of value for them. They may have other priorities with their life/business/money when you have reached them. 
  9. Celebrate “No”s – This can be fun and rather skyrocket your prospecting productivity. We had this small daily ritual in our team, in our daily prospecting hours. Every time the prospect says no to any of the sales reps, he or she will get a small financial incentive. It was mostly 1 rupee or so. However, that reduced the burden on everyone’s mind of feeling rejected. Rather the small incentive to get more “no”s drove everyone to make more calls or contacts. This way naturally the number of hot qualified prospects only increased, while the team had a fun time. 
  10. Think of prospecting as a game. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose! It is all a part of the fun. Celebrate the tiny moments of victory – every time you started a call well or the prospect spoke with you for longer time or when you liked the way you talked with the prospect or when the prospect complimented you for something. This keeps you in the loop and saves unnecessary boredom or exhaustion for you. 
  11. Use LinkedIn, twitter, Instagram and other social platforms, to quickly surf the prospects profile. This may give you some useful interesting information, which you can use in your call – to set context and attract attention – of your prospect, sometimes in less than first 30 seconds of the call. 
  12. Be clear that, it is a prospecting call – not a sales closure call. This means your goal has to be simply to set the next meeting with the prospect – whether it is virtual or physical. Also, you are calling mainly to understand if the prospect fits your target customer profile. This helps you reduce your efforts, save hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars that are wasted pitching your offering to wrong prospect later. 
  13. Know deep down – it is only the strong pipeline of rigorously qualified prospects – that eventually help you beat your sales targets. The best in Sales are those who are methodical and consistent in their daily prospecting efforts. This is where they spend most of their time first. They know from their experience that if this step is done properly, the job becomes much more easy and fun in later stages. They would rather get a “no” while prospecting itself, rather than getting it in later stages of the sales cycle. 
  14. Be very clear about your goal, because your goal drives your actions. If your goal is simply to somehow get the prospecting activity done, you will end up doing a mediocre job at it. This will the create mediocre results in Sales. If the goal is to beat your target, then you will prospect with a lot more focus and intensity. Remember, focus and intensity does not mean lot of efforts and no fun! It only means you being aware of why you are doing and what is happening while you do it. 

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