Prospecting may not be your favourite part of the sales process but it is, and will always remain, an essential part. You will always require a constant stream of new business. It is important not to let yourself be side-tracked by periods of sales success. One day’s feast can easily lead into the next day’s famine; searching out new business is a continual process.
Many a salesperson has become dispirited by the ‘endless’ phone calls that never seem to lead to a meeting and the ‘endless’ meetings that never seem to lead to a concrete sale. In reality the problem often lies with the attitude of the salesperson. Some people ‘do just enough prospecting to hate it’. They approach the task with little enthusiasm and minimal effort and in consequence achieve a poor return on their investment.
Top salespeople accept that prospecting is an important element in the sales process and approach it with enthusiasm, being prepared to put in the effort in order to reap the rewards. They also use it as a motivational tool. By tracking their progress over time and calculating the ratios of telephone calls to meetings and meetings to sales, they are able to expect with some certainty a given number of sales as a result of a given number of calls made at the front end. This then provides a stimulus to improve the averages by becoming more skilled at each stage of the process.
1. Existing customers
They know you and should be open to conducting further business (provided your product/service lived up to expectations!) As you develop the relationship, the customer may be able to give you helpful suggestions or even possible leads. This could relate to other parts of the organisation or to other companies.
2. Previous interest
Circumstances change. Prospects that were not at one time in a position to buy may now be. Maintain lists of all who have been approached in the past and all those who have enquired at one time or another about your offering.
3. Business alliances
There may be opportunities to develop partnerships with other organisations to exploit some business idea e.g. a joint venture in another country.
4. Exhibitions and trade shows
There are opportunities here not only to promote your business to delegates but also to fellow exhibitors.
5. Conferences and seminars
It may be possible to get a spot as a guest speaker at a conference or to run a parallel workshop where you can promote your product/service.
6. Networking - An essential skill to develop
Take every opportunity to meet people and make contacts in whatever setting in order to promote your offering. Business clubs, breakfast meetings, trade association events etc. the list is endless – but be committed!
There are of course numerous ways to search out potential new business; the ideas above constitute only a few examples. The point to remember is the need for tenacity, determination and most importantly consistency in your approach to prospecting.