Sometimes leads fall in your lap. What a treat that is when it happens.
But clearly, it’s rarely that easy.
Prospecting is the life blood for every sales person. The clients are out there, it’s just a matter of prospecting to find them.
Among other things, it comes down to confidence. Confidence in your calls, and ability to sell, absolutely translates on your calls when you’re prospecting. Your first impression on a call hinges on how confident you sound.
When you’re prospecting a new client, the impression you give on your first call is the only thing they have to go on. It’s certainly not easy to shed them, but if nerves can be sensed on the call, your potential client can easily assume that what you’re selling isn’t worth their time. Being confident, in command, and sure of yourself will make you seem credible.
Anxiety can also creep in while prospecting. That’s normal, but you can also get through it and uncork a fabulous prospecting call in the meantime. Listen to a high-energy song before your call, replay a highlight reel in your head of your greatest selling achievements, and picture in your head how you want to the call to go and what outcome you want.
It’s also easy to fall victim to prospecting too much and not taking the time to put together a quality pitch. Do your homework, and you’ll automatically feel ready. But it’s also important to focus on quality, rather than quantity.
“Instead of making tons of calls, take the time to do your research and know as much as you can about your prospect’s likes, dislikes, as well as the challenges and opportunities of their industry,” said Gabor Koncz, founder of Automizy. “Get to know the features of their products and services. This will help you break the ice and get your prospect’s attention instantly.”
David Scarola, Vice President of The Alternative Board, or TAB, says that as with most outbound marketing strategies, cold calling for prospects will generally yield a low success rate if it’s not integrated with other marketing tactics.
“Warm up your cold calls by preceding them with a direct mail campaign. That way, your prospect already has some idea of who’s on the other end of the line,” Scarola said. “Once you’ve reached your prospect, acknowledge that you are calling unexpectedly and may be interrupting. Ask their permission before jumping into the sales pitch, then get to your point in 30 seconds or less. Once you’ve hooked them, try to arrange a follow up conversation, either in person or over the phone. Above all else: be brief, be patient, and be polite.”
Rod Salazar, a longtime independent national sales director, agrees with the prep time. He’s spent the majority of his career in pharmaceutical sales. Even though he already knows who his potential clients are and doesn’t have to rely on cold calling, he still says doing your homework is crucial.
Going into a call and knowing what your potential client’s needs are, is a major first step.
“Where do they have gaps, and do we have solutions for any of those gaps” Salazar said. “We don’t pitch our products just hoping it fills a need. We’re trying to find out if they actually have a need already. Even if they’re using a competitor’s product, we ask if they’re having any challenges with it, and do we have any solutions on our end.”
Salazar also says not to get discouraged when prospecting. He’s been known to make monthly calls to potential clients who’ve already told him ‘no’. He says that persistence almost always pays off and he eventually gets some interest.
“We’ll get them to dip their toes in the water, eventually. You don’t have to always dive in head first,” he said. “If you know they’d be a good client and your product is right for them, don’t give up on them.”
Prospecting for clients can have a long reach. Many of your potential clients will no doubt know many of your others. It comes down to credibility, Salazar says.
“We’re constantly trying to network our clients,” he said. “The most important thing when you’re trying to build your book of business is being customer-centric and that you’re listening to their needs and concerns and what their gap and obstacles are. If you’re able to help them come to a solution for that, then you gain credibility. A lot of sales reps don’t realize how important credibility is.”
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