12 Most Important Rules for Prospecting
The lifeblood of any organization is clients. Acquiring these clients is often the most challenging aspect of any business, and it is one the primary causes of failure for so many entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, and start-ups.
The key to growing any business is through winning new clients. But focusing on winning is like focusing on the scoreboard. You don’t make the number go up by focusing on the score; you make the number go up by playing the game well. And when it comes to client-getting, that game is prospecting.
Here are the 12 Most Important Rules for Prospecting. Follow these rules and make it easier to generate the new relationships that open new opportunities.
1. Don’t Buy the Hype
You will be told that you no longer have to prospect. You will be told that Sales 2.0 and inbound marketing can generate enough leads to help you reach your sales goals, and that prospecting is thing of the past. You will be told that buyers are more interested in researching and pursuing you. Don’t buy any of this hype; none of it is true. To succeed in growing your sales, there isn’t anything more important than opening the relationships that open opportunities.
2. Be Method Agnostic
There are many ways to open relationships with your dream clients. Use all of them. Make cold calls. Ask for referrals. Network. Send emails. Use Sales 2.0 approaches. You don’t determine your dream clients preferred method of communication, and you don’t know which of these will get you in. Use all of them.
3. Vary Your Approach
Use all of the prospecting methods in the list above (and all of the others that you will add to your list) and vary your approach. Build a plan to follow up phone calls with emails. Follow up emails with introductions. Mix it up.
4. Just Get In
If you can’t get in at the top of the org chart, just get in. You can work your way up or down the org chart and find your way through your dream client company once you are in. You can do far more with relationships on the inside than you can from the outside—and with no relationships.
5. Block Time
There are many demands on your time, whether you are a salesperson, and entrepreneur, or a solopreneur. If you don’t block time for prospecting, it won’t get done. Other tasks and responsibilities will creep onto your calendar and crowd out your time for prospecting. Block the time and ferociously protect it.
6. Separate Research from Prospecting
Researching and prospecting are two very different tasks. Stopping your prospecting to research the next lead knocks you off your rhythm and destroys your productivity. Do your research first, and then do your prospecting. You will get far more done, far faster, and far more effectively.
7. Have a Single Primary Objective
Know what commitment you want from your dream client when prospecting and stick to that as your objective. If you want a face-to-face appointment, ask for the face-to-face appointment. Don’t complete your needs analysis or present your solution during prospecting. Pursue only the commitment that is your primary objective.
8. Use a Script
I didn’t say sound like you are reading from a script. You are already using scripts. You may not have written them down, but you are saying the same things over and over again. Take the time to write a script using the most powerful, compelling language choices you can. Your language is your first impression—make it count.
9. Use a Script for Objections
Chances are you come across four or five primary objections to the commitments you ask for while prospecting. Write down a compelling script to resolve the concerns that underlie these objections.
10. Be Respectful
Remember that your dream client gets dozens, maybe hundreds, of calls like yours. They don’t know who is worth investing their time with and who isn’t. They are also being asked to do more with fewer resources, and their time is their most precious commodity. Be respectful.
11. Have a Compelling Value-Creating Proposition
You greatly improve your prospecting results if you have a compelling, value-creating proposition. Why should your dream client invest time with you? What are they going to get out of that investment? How are you going to help them improve their business results? The answer to these questions should be part of your script.
It’s all well and good to have pleasant conversations with your dream clients. But to move the needle, you have to ask for and obtain the commitments you need. Ask for those commitments!
Featured image courtesy of mick62 licensed via creative commons.