People ask me all the time, “What does it take to be successful when prospecting?” I’ve narrowed everything down to what I believe are the 10 rules of prospecting:
- Have a dedicated time on your calendar to prospect and don’t allow interruptions. This is absolutely essential! The most successful salespeople are those who commit time to prospecting and stick to it.
- Don’t start what you can’t finish. Prospecting is about following up. Reaching out to a bunch of people and not being able to follow up with repeat contacts is never going to result in any type of success.
- Believe 110% you can help others. If you don’t believe, why should anyone else believe in you. Top performing salespeople are successful regardless of what they sell. They know their objective is to help others, and what they sell is merely the means to allow them to do that.
- Qualify quickly. Nothing is worse than having “prospects” in your pipeline that are taking up your time but never become customers. I’m a firm believer in having a prospecting pipeline that is fast moving, allowing you to spend more time with fewer prospects. Think quality, not quantity!
- Have a prospecting process and stick to it. My rule is you won’t know if your process works unless you’ve executed it for a period of time that is 2x the length of your average buying cycle. For example, if it takes 3 months to move someone from a lead to a customer, then you need to run your process for at least 6 months before you’ll know if it is working.
- Don’t rely on social media as your primary means to generate leads. Social media is great, but don’t over rely on it. Use it as one of your sources. Social media has a long lead time and too many salespeople starve to death because they’ve put too much emphasis into social media, thinking it’s all they have to do.
- Follow up promptly. Sounds simple, but more opportunities are lost due to the failure of the salesperson to follow up fast when leads/prospects give an indication of wanting to move forward.
- Use the telephone. Don’t fall for the myth “the telephone doesn’t work because nobody answers it.” Sure the telephone isn’t as effective as it used to be, but don’t give up on it. The telephone allows you to have conversations with leads and prospects, allowing you to qualify them faster.
- Don’t rely only on the Marketing Department for leads. Wow, is this one a mistake. It’s always great to have leads supplied but top performers know they have an obligation to get leads and prospects.
- Make the prospecting process about the other person. It’s not what you sell; it’s the outcome you can help the prospect with that will get you the high-value prospects you need. If all you’re doing is telling others what you do and what your product features are, you’ll be doomed to failure.
Copyright 2016, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price and High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results.