Performance Driven Prospecting Tips:
There are two important forms of prospecting: Internal and External. Both are critical to achieving the highest possible prospecting results.
Internal Prospecting is the dedicated timing focused on research, collecting, analyzing and organizing data, working your network, setting up your communication plan (i.e., intro email and auto-email sequences via your CRM), and preparing your prospecting scripts. Consider this your “Me Time.”
External Prospecting is the customer-facing dedicated time spent on making your calls or sending your intro communications. Other ways to externally prospect are actively posting relevant material on social channels, networking, and the all-important follow up. Consider this your “Customer Time”.
In order to make a difference, stand out from the competition, convert those prospects into leads, and ultimately, into definite business - you must put the proper amount of time, energy, and excellence towards both internal and external actions. It's not rocket science; however, there is a science to it. It starts with Discipline + Determination * A Great Attitude.
Here are 10 Performance Driven Prospecting Tips that will help you generate more qualified business opportunities and profitable revenue:
- Block time on your calendar
- Use a micro-prospecting approach
- Work your network
- Organize your intel
- Answer customer-centric questions
- Set up your communication plan
- Be a Thought Leader
- Script your value proposition
- Practice your pitch
- Stay focused
- Have Fun! Enough Said.
1) Block Dedicated Time On Your Calendar.
If it’s not on your calendar, it won’t happen. Be intentional about the time you plan for prospecting. Try scheduling uninterrupted prospecting time on your calendar for both Internal and External Prospecting. As a Best Practice, schedule 2 hours a week for Internal and 2 hours a week for External. Break it up – you’ll be surprised at how much you get done in 30 min intervals. Use our Calendar Exercise to initiate this important first step. Important Note: this is one of the most important actions that take the most amount of discipline.
2) Use A Micro-Prospecting Approach.
Manageable prioritization is key. When you break anything into smaller "chunks," it becomes much easier to digest. Manage your prospecting lists (a.k.a. target accounts) in priority groups based on value, connections, and best fit for a win-win situation. Prioritize in groups of ten. Forget the old "make 20+ prospecting calls a week". You need to use both internal and external prospecting efforts to achieve the best results. So, focus only on your top ten each week so to eliminate the angst or stress from a long list of 20 or 30 (or more). With focus, you'll find that you will get through your research with more quality intel and inevitably move through your prospecting list in groups of 10 faster, which will fill your lead funnel with more robust, well-qualified business opportunities.
3) Work Your Network.
The people within your network are the most valuable resources you have in prospecting. Whether they are former colleagues, industry connections, friends, former classmates, etc. - getting the support and assistance from someone in your network to provide a “warm introduction” to a potential prospect you have wanted to connect with can be priceless! Ask the friends, colleagues, and connections in your network to make introductions for you. The key is to make it easy on your network. Provide your client with a list of their connections that you would like an introduction. Take it a step further and send a pre-written email about you and how you can benefit the prospect, so all they have to do is hit send. That will go a long way!
Use LinkedIn and look at your 1st connections and who they are connected to (aka your 2nd and 3rd connections). Map out your first connections that can be influencers in introductions, referrals, testimonials, etc. 90% of top-performing sellers use social media in their sales strategy.
Other ways to work your network are to follow your Target Accounts on social. Join Groups based on your target accounts/target markets, follow hashtags, and set up Google Alerts.
4) Organize Your Intel.
Hope is not a plan! Without a clear direction and a plan, one will always fail to maximize the win. In other words, map out your information. Organize the information you find in your research in a flow that makes sense for a conversation. Examples of intel to map for a conversation:
- Your target accounts’ products or services
- Product differentiators
- Awards & accolades
- Social posts or newsworthy coverage
- Pain points
- Decision-makers and key contacts (and their connections and mutual connections)
- Overall meeting or travel spend
- Outstanding RFPs
- Organizational structure and changes
- Affiliate/sister companies, etc.
5) Answer These Customer-Centric Questions.
Prioritize the intel you’ve gathered for your prospects by answering these questions:
- What are their pain points?
- How can I solve the pain points better than anyone else? (aka What’s my differentiating solution?)
- What value can I bring to the customer?
- Why would they care?
- What case studies or stats do I have to back up my solution?
Use the answers to these questions to prioritize who you’re going to call and what you’re going to say.
6) Set Up Your Communication Plan.
To prep for your phone or in-person conversation, you should have a compelling opening statement and focus on the benefits to the prospect.
Start with, What can you do for them, and Why? Use collaborative words such as "we" instead of "I" will increase your success rate by at least 35%.
Consider using video in your intro emails. 70% of prospects watch a video to help them make a decision (ThinkWithGoogle).
Follow up communications are critical to your success. Studies show that it takes 8-12 touchpoints to convert a sale. 92% of sales pros give up after the 4th call, but 80% of prospects say no four times before they say yes. Use your CRM to build email templates that can be customized for each prospect. Your CRM should have auto-email sequences that will trigger follow up for those that you haven’t yet made a connection. Track all communication in your CRM and use your tracers.
Most importantly, take action on your tracers when they are scheduled – whether they are for phone calls, emails, text correspondence, etc. Don’t let a trace fall through the cracks otherwise, you’re letting $$ fall through the cracks!
7) Become A Thought Leader.
Be an active expert on LinkedIn and other social channels or groups by posting relevant and thoughtful content. If you are trying to get a buyer’s attention today, this is the best way (besides a network referral) to catch their interest. In fact, by including authentic thought leadership as part of your prospecting strategy, you'll be more successful at all stages of the sales funnel. Studies show that sales reps who use social selling are 50% more likely to meet or exceed their quota.
The key to becoming a Thought Leader is being professional, intentional, and consistent. During your Internal Prospecting Time, identify relevant articles or blogs that you may want to curate and share from other industry professionals. With your expertise and research, you should write your own articles and post them! Do this consistently. Remember, out of sight, out of mind.
Ask for endorsements from others in your network. Many people bypass this option on LinkedIn. Endorsements build your creditability, so don't be shy and get endorsements that will reinforce your status as a Thought Leader in your role, other professional skill sets you have, the market you're in, the product you sell, etc. By doing this, you will shine professionally, so choose content that your prospects and current customers would be interested in vs. only posting photos of your team.
8) Write Your Script.
Often scripts are seen as a nuisance to develop (time waster); however, the reality is there are valuable benefits from using scripts. Think of it as "What you put into it is what you get out of it." Never prospect on the fly. The benefits of using a prospecting script will:
- Improves how you sound
- Shows your confidence
- Enhances the impression you make
- Improves rapport
- Increases your effectiveness and the buyer's confidence
- Decreases stress
- Improves your lead generation
Always script your opening statement (a.k.a. your elevator pitch) focused on what you can do for the prospect and why. Script out answers to potential questions you may get. Both questions about your product in general and concerning questions the prospect may have (like when you’re most recent renovation was or your trip advisor rating). In addition, script your A, B, and C objectives. Meaning, what is the ideal situation/ask as a result of your call?
Is “A” inviting them for lunch and a site tour or product demo? Is “B” asking for a follow up virtual call at a time at their convenience? Is “C” asking for 10 minutes of their time to show how you can provide better service while offering a better price than the competition?
9) Practice Your Pitch!
Rehearsal is important because you can apply your knowledge to test out what works, and you can learn and adjust in a safe environment (vs. practicing on your customers!). Practice also allows you to rehearse different parts before you get in front of your prospect; whether on the phone or in person.
According to the Science of Adult Learning, we learn best by doing. The best skills are learned through practice and building your muscle memory.
The ideal situation is when you have another person or a coach provide you with instant feedback. Talk through multiple scenarios that may occur, get feedback, and adjust. Practice your responses in a variety of scenarios that a prospect may ask - so that when one of them happens (and it will), you are ready!
10) Stay Focused.
Remember, it takes 8 – 12 touch-points before a customer may be ready to have a conversation with you. Work the stats, and don’t let them work you. If your leadership asks if you have contacted a prospect, never say, "I emailed them and they didn't email me back". You will need to email them multiple times and call them to say you have done your due diligence confidently.
Have a prospecting plan that takes you through those 12 touch-points, and you will see your funnel grow, your qualified leads rise, and your conversion ratio soar.
And most importantly, HAVE FUN! The formula for Performance Driven Prospecting is Discipline + Determination * A Great Attitude = Prospecting Success!