Today, I’m going to talk to you about how to build your prospecting plan. I will walk you through ten easy steps. When I say build your prospecting plan, you have to understand that there’s some background that must be done first. You must do this before you can think about where you should find prospects or set them up. You must build out what you do. Here’s some of the background information and insights that surround this.
1. Know Your Customers’ Needs
What needs are you satisfying? When I work with salespeople, I often find that they can’t even express what they do or how they help customers. Gee, how in the world can you sell anything if you don’t know what you do?! This isn’t about knowing what you sell, rather about knowing the need that you fill with your customers. If you can’t identify and articulate your need, how can you begin prospecting?
2. Your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile)
This is your persona of the exact person/company you want to go after. You can’t go after just anybody who has a heartbeat. No. You know what, my dog has a heartbeat. My dog is not buying anything from me; she never will. You must go after a very targeted, focused profile. Develop your ICP and stick to it.
The big thing is that you have to get it tight. You have to get focused, because your ICP will change how you actually go about prospecting.
3. Your Profile
What does it say about you? When you begin prospecting, how does your profile communicate about you and what you do? Customers and prospects will go out on the Internet and look you up. They want to find out who you are and what the world has to say about you.
So, what does your profile say? Does your profile align with what you do? Many times, I find people’s online profiles say one thing but they’re selling something completely different. It doesn’t line up. Hold it, marry the two. Make sure they go together. When people do a Google search for you, be sure that what they read about you matches what you do.
4. Narrow the Solution
Let’s be real, you can’t go in and pretend that you’re going to sell everything to everybody. You can’t even go in and pretend that you’ll sell everything to a few people. No. You must narrow the solution.
So, now build out your prospecting plan. Stay very focused in what you’re trying to sell. It all comes down to knowing your customer’s need and your ICP.
I am going to share some more insights with you on how to narrow down your prospecting plan and focus in on your ICP, but first, you have to be able to narrow the solution. Why? In order for you to communicate the solution, it must be focused. You’ve got to be able to narrow the solution enough so you’re able to clearly articulate it to your customers, easier than ever.
Right now, in the world that we’re living in, speed sells and simplicity sells. Don’t sell the complicated widget when the simple widget is the one that customers want.
5. Existing Customers
You’ll find that you can actually learn quite a bit from your existing customers who are currently buying your product. How are they benefiting from it? What are they getting out of it? Do a deep dive into why. Gain understanding.
Ask your customers how your product / service is helping them. What are the benefits they’ve been able to achieve? Take time to understand what your customers think about you, because often, what you think is many times different from what your customers think.
6. Relationships Matter
Yes, relationships matter in multiple ways and you really have to be very clear on this. We become the sum of the five people we associate with. Jim Rohn said that line years ago, but it still holds true today. Relationships are important. They matter.
If you want to be successful in sales, you better hang out with successful salespeople. Relationships also matter in terms of the industry and companies that you’re selling to, because, again, everybody is connected now more than ever. Relationships matter because of the ability to validate who a person is.
So, sit there and ask yourself where your relationships are at today and where they need to be tomorrow. What are some the wiggles and shakes that need to come out? Do you need to change?
7. Supply Chain
Where does this come into play? It comes into play very simply with the current customers that you sell to who undoubtedly have customers that they sell to. Even if you’re in B2C, the supply chain matters. Remember that there’s always somebody else and/or something else.
You want to look at your ICP and your customers and move downstream. To do this, ask yourself, where does the product or service I sell play out with other people? Then, move upstream by asking yourself, what and how are other things that the customer is dealing with and/or getting in the way?
You see, the more you understand the supply chain and the total 360-picture that your customers work in, the better off you’ll be. Now, the supply chain also applies within your own company. What is your supply chain?
You’ll find it interesting that you and your company has many strong relationships that have never been nurtured. If you think about it, people in your company’s supply chain have a vested interest in seeing you do well. If you succeed, they do better. Take advantage of the people that are in your own supply chain and the same goes with your customers. Who are in your customer’s supply chain? Same thing with your customers, who are in your customers supply chain?
When you build out your prospecting plan, you have to look at all of your resources. This is probably one area that gets overlooked more than anything else.
8. Industry Leader
You need to be seen and begin positioning yourself as an industry leader right now. Again, nobody wants to do business with losers.
Think about something for a moment: you’re a customer who has to pay two salespeople calling on you. We’ll say that both salespeople sell the exact same thing. One of them is an industry leader and one of them is a loser. Who would you want to talk to – the industry leader or the loser? You definitely want to talk to the industry leader.
Before you get going, you have to position yourself as the leader in your industry, wherever that is. That means you go out on the Internet and gather advice. That means you get active with trade associations in your industry. That means you become viewed as the industry leader.
9. Trust and Integrity
If you have read one of my books, heard me speak, or know me at all, you knew I could not build a list out without these two highly valuable traits. Trust and integrity are so important and let me tell you that now more than ever, the walls talk.
Think about this with restaurants. They have Yelp reviews and Facebook reviews. There are reviews on everything everywhere. Your customers talk to each other. Trust and integrity changes everything and you know what? I guarantee you will sleep a lot better at night when you know you’re doing everything with integrity and with people who have your trust and you have theirs.
When you build your life and your career on integrity and trust, you’ll also attract people. When I hear people say they have lousy customers or ones who are unethical, sometimes I have to tell them that it’s because they are using unethical sales practices. If you are dishonest, that is the kind of customer and company that you will attract.
Integrity attracts integrity. Trust attracts trust. Period.
10. Think Long-term!
As you’re building out your prospecting plan, play the long game. Never think for a moment that your plan will be a 30-day success. It’s not. It won’t be. You have to think long-term. You have to understand that you’re putting building blocks in place that may take months or even years to come to fruition.
But don’t hold yourself back and tell yourself it’s not going to work. It will. Just be patient. I find that it’s just like knowledge. In terms of learning information, whatever you learned a few years ago continues to compound and become more and more valuable. It’s the same with money. You invest into bonds, stocks and so fourth. Over time, that money that you initially invested becomes worth more and more. It’s the same with your prospecting plan – you are making an investment. Yes, you want short-term returns, but the best returns will come in the months and years to come.
Those are the ten things on how to build out your prospecting plan. I wrote the book A Mind for Sales, because honestly if you don’t have a mind for sales, forget it! Your prospecting plan won’t happen and you won’t be successful. Buy your copy on Amazon today and submit a review to share with others.
Copyright 2020, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of A Mind for Sales and High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results.