Prospecting is one of the toughest (if not THE toughest) activity we undertake in selling. Especially when you’re at the beginning – as a new entrepreneur, growing a new market, or taking on a new sales role.
In Fanatical Prospecting, author Jeb Blount shares this thought, and it has stuck with me: “In any endeavor, success is paid for in advance with hard work. In sales, success is paid for in advance with prospecting.”
Prospecting, or building new relationships and leveraging existing ones to grow your business, must be part of your modern selling toolkit.
This post shares four strategies to help you and your sales team enhance your prospecting efforts.
Lesson 1. Consider specialization.
Unless you’re in a very specific territory or vertical, the choices are pretty limitless when it comes to who we can prospect. When we have too many choices, it’s easy to become paralyzed with where to start. Those who are most successful typically specialize on a vertical. This requires taking the long view, because it requires us to go deep in that expertise, to truly understand that vertical, and become known in it. Where it helps with prospecting is to provide a focused starting point and a roadmap to build quality lists. For example, if one seller focuses on private education, she can build her lists with much more specificity and quality, than another seller who is trying to work with multiple verticals.
Lesson 2. Plan your lists and goals in advance.
Prospecting is going to gain more momentum with advance planning. Have your lists ready to go, with contact information. When you’re building that list during prospecting time it slows down your momentum, and your discipline will fade away. In addition to those planned lists, know the single goal you’d like to accomplish with that call. Is it setting a discovery meeting? Is it building a relationship with an influencer? Moving an existing opportunity along in the process? Information gathering? That will help you stay present to the outcome, build your confidence, and focus the direction of the conversation.
Lesson 3. Leverage your Centers of Influence (COI).
A COI is a person (or in some cases an organization), that is well-networked and seen as a leader. That person is usually a strategic thinker, and respects what you’re trying to accomplish. Those most successful with prospecting focus a lot of energy on their centers of influence, because it can expand their reach and help warm up other connections. They also don’t get hung up on asking their COIs for an initial meeting. That was a big a-ha moment for one seller who realized he had been putting off these meetings out of fear of damaging the relationship. In fact, the exact opposite happened. These COIs were excited to hear from him; they wanted to connect for some mutual collaboration and help grow his business.
Lesson 4. Maintain Your Energy.
Keeping energy levels up during prospecting is so important, because when our energy dips it comes across in our conversations. In a recent conversation with a group of sellers, we brainstormed these ways to keep our energy levels up:
- Set specific blocks of time at your most energetic times of the day. This can be anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours. The key is that the blocks are for specific prospecting activity only – whether that be calling, email, or social prospecting.
- Set a timer for your block. Get rid of all other distractions and remain focused on the activity at hand until that timer goes off. Take a break, and then regroup for what’s next – either continued prospecting or other steps.
- Celebrate progress. Some days, progress is getting a good piece of information. Some days it’s scheduling the meeting. And some days, it’s hanging in with discipline when the motivation is gone. Those most successful at keeping their energy up celebrate small wins.
- Get an accountability partner. Is there someone on your team, or elsewhere, that you can partner up with, to hold each other accountable? This might be checking in to make you’re honoring your time blocks, or challenging you to make one more call or email. Accountability partners tend to work best when they’re in alignment with where they are on the growth path, and their goals. Another option is to find someone further along the path than you are, and ask if they can informally mentor you, sharing what has helped them to be successful.
- Take care of yourself physically. Your physical energy directly impacts your emotional and mental energy. Your workouts, your sleep habits, your nutrition – they all matter when it comes to supporting your success.
Which of these lessons can you implement into your prospecting strategy and support your sales goals? What other prospecting lessons have you learned?
I’d love to hear from you.
And for more modern selling strategies to maximize your results, you can download our Sales Strategies ebook now.
Amy Franko is founder and president of Impact Instruction Group. Her first book, The Modern Seller, is due out in late 2017. Learn more and get free strategic selling resources at impactinstruction.com.