Are you struggling to find new clients? Are you frustrated by poor quality leads?
In this article from Sales Dragon Consulting, Jack Wilson, Asia’s leading sales expert for business professionals, discusses strategies for prospecting success that individual salespeople can use and the actions company management can take to effectively support their sales.
Sales Prospecting: Strategies for Success
When I started in sales, my boss gave me the name-card box left behind by a salesperson who had recently quit and told me to call everyone in the box. This was my introduction to the joys of prospecting. In some ways I was lucky – at least I had box to start from!
Prospecting is widely regarded as the most challenging part of sales. If salespeople have a potential customer on the hook, they will go in for the close. But what are the best ways of finding potential customers in the first place?
Let’s look at four simple ways that individual salespeople can succeed at prospecting:
Is perseverance a strategy? Absolutely! Perseverance is often the difference between a new client and a wasted effort. And chances are that you are not persevering enough. It is commonly held that on average it takes between 6 and 8 calls or reach-outs to win a sale, but most salespeople give up far earlier. This is where a CRM and some self-discipline can help out: record your effort and keep chasing longer.
Asking existing clients for referrals is a great, but underutilized, prospecting tactic. People are 4 times more likely to buy a product that has been referred by a friend and most satisfied customers are willing to refer your company. But most salespeople are not capitalizing on referrals and that means losing high value leads, so start asking for referrals!
3. Cold/Warm Calling
My teenager tells me that nobody calls each other anymore, they just send texts. Sorry buddy, but you’re wrong! According to a Rain Group study, over 50% of senior-level buyers prefer speaking with salespeople by phone than via any other form of communication. The caveat to this is that cold calls done badly certainly have no place in sales today. There are lots of on-line tips for better cold-calling, but in a nutshell: research your target, warm the intro by referrals or an e-mail, prepare in advance your questions and soundbites that will help the target, focus on building a relationship first and don’t push the sale too early (probably not on the first call!)
1. Social Media Searches
Social media for prospecting is a winner. Recently I led a team selling services to M&A practitioners in Korea. A quick LinkedIn search revealed over 5,000 professionals with M&A in their job description. Remember my name-card box target list? This is the modern version, created instantly thanks to social media.
Now, let’s look at the role of company management. Here are two simple ways that companies can help salespeople succeed at prospecting:
2. Thought Leadership
If you’re reading this, you are seeing an example of thought leadership. Thought leadership is the cornerstone of inbound prospecting – engaging with prospects with content they find interesting that increases curiosity about you and prompts them to get in touch. Great strategy, but most salespeople don’t have time to generate thought leadership on their own. They need company management to invest in content creation. A recent LinkedIn study found that only 14% of readers feel that company-produced content deserved top marks. This means that companies need to produce not just more content, but far better content to help salespeople with prospecting.
3. CRM Cleanup
Company CRM’s are the best source of prospects. They are filled with people who already know your company and may have even bought from you in the past. But I know of many companies who have thousands of outdated contacts in their database. Most of these contacts have moved on to bigger and better jobs, so can be even more valuable as prospects. But do salespeople hunt down clients when they move? They might, but this is a very inefficient use of valuable sales time. A better strategy is for companies to invest in data cleanups (finding where ex-clients went and how to contact them) and feeding updated prospects back to salespeople to chase.
This short article serves to highlight some of the strategies that individual salespeople and company management can use to improve prospecting success. I hope that it has proven useful to you and that it might generate fruitful discussion in your workplace. Thanks for reading!
Founder & Managing Director
Sales Dragon Consulting
At Sales Dragon Consulting, we help companies who want to grow their sales.
Through consulting and mentorship, we give management and sales teams the strategies and skills they need to achieve tremendous sales growth.
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