Look, I’ve been in the sales game for a long time… And one thing I’ve learned is if you want to blow up your paycheck, you have to blow up your pipeline. The way to do that is sales prospecting.
Although prospecting is one of the most misunderstood skills in sales, it is also one of the most valuable.
After all, prospecting is how you control your volume of sales and grow your business.
YOU CAN BE THE BEST CLOSER ON PLANET EARTH, BUT IT WON’T MATTER WITH NO ONE IN FRONT OF YOU TO CLOSE.
Without the ability to prospect, you become a slave to economic contractions. This puts you at risk, which makes it even more unfortunate that there has been little to no direction on this vital subject…
In this article, I am going draw from my 35+ years in sales to share:
- What prospecting is
- Who you are going to target and
- How to convert them into paying customers
Without further ado, let’s get into it so you can start filling your pipeline…
What Is the Definition of a Sales Prospect?
Before you can do anything, you need to know what it is first. So, what is sales prospecting exactly?
There are three perspectives on “prospecting” which apply to sales:
- Chances or financial expectations.
- Creating a potential client for your product or service.
- Possible customer purchases.
In short, a sales prospect refers to the opportunity or activity to create a customer.
As such, it becomes clear why your future finances depend on your ability to prospect.
Aside from these definitions, let’s answer several other questions you may have and dive into the nuances of prospecting…
Is There a Difference Between a Prospect and a Lead?
One distinction I want you to have the ability to make is between a prospect and a lead…
By definition, a “lead” is a contact that you have not qualified as interested, able, or willing to make a purchasing decision.
On the other hand, a “prospect” is a person who you have established would benefit from doing business with you.
Getting new leads from various sources is great. Yet only once you begin qualifying and moving them into the prospect category will you start getting closer to the gold.
However, to actually get that gold, you also need to understand the difference between two additional sales terms…
How Is Prospecting Different Than Selling?
Despite being separate activities, selling and prospecting are heavily reliant upon one another.
Yet where does one stop and the other begin?
To start, prospecting and selling have different goals.
For example, here are the objectives you should have for gaining new prospects:
- Identify the sales lead as a target for your product or service — or a source of more leads and referrals.
- Get out of obscurity with the person in front of you. They need to know who you are to be sold to.
- Discover more about the lead and their needs to turn them into a prospect.
- Educate the person on your business and how it can serve them.
- Find out what would have to happen for the prospect to become a buyer.
At this point, sometimes sales prospecting naturally transitions into selling. It’s always great when you score a deal so easily.
For situations in which the deal needs more work, follow the rest of the steps in the sales cycle.
Why Is Prospecting Important in Sales?
By now, I hope you’re starting to understand how much your bottom line is affected by prospecting.
In addition to paving the way for closing more deals, there are other non-monetary benefits to sales prospecting I want you to consider.
Look at it this way…
What if you never felt dependent on luck that someone would see your ad, call you up, or walk into your office?
How would it feel to not dread any economic downturn they put in the news?
This kind of belief in yourself is the secret needle-mover — in sales and in life.
And if you want to tap into unparalleled confidence, you have to take the first massive action steps to fill your pipeline…
How Can You Build Prospecting Lists?
A large portion of what sales prospecting is involves building out lists with different categories of people.
When you make these lists the right way, it makes it easier for you to approach each lead in the way that will move them towards a prospect — then a buyer.
Here are some powerful moves to get you started with effective prospecting lists.
Plug into Your Power Base
Anyone looking to prospect should begin with their power base. Everybody has one.
Your power base starts from you, then goes outwards:
- Members of your church or other organizations
Some make the argument that you shouldn’t sell to those closest to you…
I’m sorry to say that is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.
IF YOU HAVE A PRODUCT YOU KNOW HELPS PEOPLE, WHY WOULDN’T YOU OFFER IT TO THOSE YOU LOVE?
Make this important power base list and use it before anything else.
Target Sold AND Unsold Customers
The next file I want you to create will be a two-parter — current customers and the ones you didn’t succeed in selling yet.
It sounds simple, but I am going to ask you to take this list to the next level…
For the first part — sold customers — I want you to note down every client who has bought from you at this company and every other company you have ever sold for.
That’s right. I want you to include clients from past sales positions. To not incorporate a great buyer just because they are from a previous company is a mistake. Add them here.
Second, we have to confront our salesman’s shame and write down the customer who came in but we couldn’t close. Again, add prospects from this and past companies.
Then, take into account customers which another salesperson no longer represents or couldn’t sell.
At this point, your pipeline is looking pretty full of leads…
However, I have one more pointer for you to get it bursting with more traffic than you can handle.
Identify Businesses Where YOU are a Client
For the next list, I want you to put down everyone you spend money with.
Think about companies and individuals like:
- Who does your dry cleaning
- Restaurants you frequent
- Contractors which have worked on your home
Economies are built on the exchange of money and services. It only makes sense that you would prospect in places you do business with.
Digging in and tapping into this list will give you a real edge when it comes to prospecting.
At the same time, I also want you to keep the following sales prospecting tools in mind as you take on the marketplace…
My Top 6 Tips to Become a Sales Prospecting Master
Before I go into my next sales prospecting techniques, I want to preface them with one thing…
None of these will work unless you make prospecting a priority. Generating new traffic will not be fruitful without 100% commitment.
The point is I want you to really put some attention into the process as you implement the prospecting strategies I’m about to share with you. I promise they won’t let you down.
Let’s dive in…
1. Maintain the Right Attitude
It goes without saying that you should have a positive attitude in ALL activities you take on. Maintaining this mindset is something that takes constant work, with a daily attitude workout.
Nevertheless, being of service is equally important in terms of mindset. Remember — you are not selling here. You are getting yourself out of obscurity while offering help to others.
Ultimately, an attitude of service will result in more potential customers, good will, and effective sales. Don’t underestimate it.
2. Increase Your Level of Prospecting Activities
I have already touched on making your sales prospecting efforts a priority. Now, I want to talk about jamming as much action as possible into this vital activity…
Making a couple of phone calls or handing out a few business cards won’t get you anywhere.
But what if you made 50 phone calls or handed out 100 business cards? Then, you might get some traction.
VOLUME IS ESSENTIAL IN PROSPECTING.
Whatever you’re doing now, double it — or better yet, 10X it.
3. Raise Your Expectations
A lot of psychological mumbo-jumbo is going to tell you to set low goals, so you don’t feel disappointed…
How many successful people do you know who have lowered their expectations? More often, those who become great have “impossible” targets they never gave up on.
Say you’re going to turn 20 leads into prospects in an hour. Set the expectation to get 500 appointments a week. Then, go after them like your life depends on it.
On the other hand, also be aware that people are going to reject you, refuse to see you, and hang up on you. You gotta know that’s going to happen, then make those targets anyways.
You may think that this sounds too tough. Well, that is the market we’re in. The only way to effectively prospect is to increase expectations, actions, and the magnitude of each step along the way.
4. Commit to the Sales Prospecting Process EVERY DAY
Let me ask you this — how often are you prospecting right now?
If it is not every day, it is not enough. Any action worth doing once is an action you should be doing every day.
Imagine if you only worked out once. You would never build any muscle. Same goes for sales.
Remember, one of your prospecting goals is to get out of obscurity in your space. If you don’t remind people who you are every day, all these potential buyers are going to forget you.
Between prospecting and selling, you’re jam-packed with a lot of activity into your day. For this reason, you have to get a handle on this next tip..
5. Take Ownership of Time
Those who are successful seem to be able to create and control time. They have schedules full of appointments and get phenomenal amounts of work done…
They have the same 24 hours as anyone else, so what is their secret?
Let’s look at an instance of what an average person might do versus these “time benders” to see what you can do differently.
For example, normal sales reps may make one prospecting phone call, hang up, feel like they did something, then make a cup of coffee…
However, it just seems like they did just enough for their day to feel tedious and like work.
Instead, I would block out an hour and see how many phone calls I could make in that time. I promise making prospecting calls this way will result in more:
Once you take ownership of time this way, you will be surprised how much you get done — and how quickly you do it.
Still, you gotta keep your approach to prospecting interesting as well…
6. Diversify Your Prospecting Methods
When you are trying to expand your pipeline, you have to get creative to get people’s attention.
Just calling the person over and over because “you want to do business with them” is going to get real old, real fast — for both you and your potential buyer.
One person might respond better to an email, while another prefers a text. As a result, you have to implement every outreach and follow-up method to find the one which will convert someone into a buyer.
All of these are powerful tools when combined with some creativity. Mastering this is black belt level prospecting.
Now, How Can You Fill Up Your Sales Pipeline?
Finally, what sales prospecting really comes down to is continuing it once you have some strategies at your disposal.
This article is full of technology to get you started, but I’ve only just scratched the surface of this underrated topic…
Like I said, I’ve been prospecting, selling, and closing deals for over three decades now. I have worked out the methods and frequency which convert.
Since it is so important to sales, all that wisdom is in my Cardone University training program. In there, I have taken any guesswork out of the equation to keep your pipeline bursting.
Take advantage of my experience and be great.
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