Step Numero Uno of the sales cycle requires a fundamental shift in the way in which we think. Many look at prospecting as an activity, but personally I view it as a mindset. To be successful, a salesperson needs to ALWAYS be turned “on.” Every conversation, every introduction, every social gathering should be viewed as a potential opportunity to mine for new business. Now, I’m certainly not suggesting that a salesperson should constantly be “selling” outside of the office; the key is to always be “listening” so that you have your finger on the pulse on what’s happening in your community.
The most effective form of prospecting is one that many salespeople overlook – business generated from referrals. Ask your clients if they would be kind enough to share their newspaper advertising success with their friends who could also prosper from your help. One tactic I’ve found extremely successful is what I call “The Power of Five.” After I’ve developed a solid rapport with a prospect/client, I give them five of my business cards and ask them for five in return. Then I explain my rationale: I like to support businesses that support me, so I look for opportunities to refer clients to my friends and ask my clients to do the same for me. It’s amazing how effective this technique can be.
Other prospecting sources I use frequently are local business journals, chamber of commerce meetings, networking events, real estate transaction notices, and of course the internet. It’s amazing how something as simple as “shared connections” on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook can open the door to personal introductions and preliminary meetings with possible clients.
When I first began racing bikes, my coach at the time told me that the key to success is simple. If you want to be a better bike racer, you need to race your bike…a lot. Effective sales prospecting is no different – you will produce positive results if you create a system and do it routinely. Professional salespeople prospect daily. Proactively block-off specific time on your calendar for prospecting activities such as phone calling and emailing. Treat your prospecting time with the same respect as you would any other important appointment to ensure this vital step does not slip through the cracks. Stay focused and take your prospecting seriously. I assure you that mastering this step of the sales cycle will lead you to more sales victories.
Have a terrific week,
If there are specific topics you’d like to see discussed in a future issue of The Sales Cycle, please contact me at 612-278-0223 or firstname.lastname@example.org