Whether you’re building a prospecting plan from scratch or reviewing your existing plan, ask yourself these 8 questions. I have said this before, but I will say it again- the biggest improvements you can make to your prospecting are to the little things. That will make the biggest difference. Too many people think the solution to their prospecting problems lies in having some massive new tool or a radical overhaul in what they do. Before you start entertaining either of these things, take some time to answer and work through these 8 questions. (If you need some help or want assistance, give me a call. Let’s talk!)
1. What about my prospecting process is compelling to the customer? This is not a trick question! If your prospecting communication is not compelling, why should the prospect engage with you? You have to ask questions that are important to your customer. Don’t ask how their day is going or if they saw your last email. You must use every communication opportunity to give a new piece of information that is important to your customer/prospect.
2. Does my prospecting process result in the customer having false expectations about what I sell, and thus force me to spend time later in the selling process reshaping them? This is a bigger issue and it shows in two ways. The first way is in lack of referrals and repeat business. If the customer feels they will get “x” because of what they’ve been told, and they only get “y,” you have an issue. There’s no way the customer will want to refer you or even buy more from you. The second problem is that you and your company will wind up having to do a lot of additional work for the customer to help overcome their sense of not getting what they wanted or expected. This results in you and your company spending a lot of money and time correcting mistakes made during the selling process.
This is why you have to know who your ideal customer is and only spend your time prospecting those who fit that profile. When you venture outside that profile, you will find yourself making false statements. You may make a sale, but it won’t last. Know your ideal customer and focus 100% of your efforts on that person.
3. Is my prospecting process focused on sharing with the customer what I have to offer, or is it more about uncovering information about the customer? The easiest way to answer this question is to ask yourself after each call what you learned from the customer. If you’re not learning insightful information, you’re not asking enough questions. If a prospect wants to learn about you, they will search the Internet. Don’t waste your time providing them info that they can get elsewhere.
4. Is my prospecting process segmented enough to allow me to uncover customer needs of difference types of prospects faster than if I used the same process for everyone? Earlier, I mentioned that you should know who your ideal customer is. Understand that you will most likely have 3 to 4 different “ideal customer profiles,” and that’s fine. You may sell to different industries and you may have customers that use your product/service in different ways. The more you can break your ideal customers into different segments, the more you can tailor how you prospect them. Modify your approach to the questions you ask and the cadence you use based on the segment you’re targeting.
5. How does the customer see me, and how I can help them? What do your customers say about you? More importantly, what do they know about you before your first meeting? I always say that your reputation arrives before you do; this is especially true in prospecting. It’s not all about social media; however, you certainly want to agree and be satisfied with what Google says about you. Also, it’s important to understand what your existing customers think about you. If you’re not getting referrals, you may need to do some soul-searching.
6. How long does it take for a lead or prospect to have confidence in me? The answer to this question is directly correlated to how long it takes you to take a lead and convert them into a customer. The sooner the prospect has confidence in you, the faster you can get them into the selling process and turn them into a customer.
You create confidence by showing the customer that you place their interests above yours. What questions are you asking, and are you asking tough questions to engage the prospect and share important information with you? When the prospect shares information with you that is unknown to the public, this is a good sign. A prospect would not share confidential information about their company or themselves unless they had confidence and trusted in you.
7. Is my prospecting process effective enough to help reduce the amount of time I spend negotiating with customers? If you have to negotiate a better deal with every customer to close them, look at your prospecting process. You’re either prospecting people who don’t fit your ideal customer profile or you’re spending too much time allowing the prospect to have confidence in you. Either way, it comes down to sloppy prospecting. First, stay in your lane and only prospect perfect prospects. Second, make it a priority to create confidence. You will never close well until you do both.
8. Is it taking me less time to convert a lead into a customer this year than last year? You have to continually work at shortening your prospecting cadence. Always learn more about your ideal customer and what questions engage them.
There you have it! The 8 questions you need to answer to build a prospecting plan that will work. Keep in mind that your answers will not come fast. They may take you a few hours or maybe even a few days, but you owe it to yourself to answer all of them. If this is a challenge, let me know. I spend a great deal of my time helping companies work through challenges like these. Another suggestion is to check out my online coaching program- click here!
Copyright 2019, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Result