There are very few certainties in selling. And, in these economic times, we all know that no sale is a sure thing.
How we sell differs from salesperson to salesperson. Some salespeople are strong presenters; others are better negotiators or closers.
Each of our styles is as individual as our fingerprints. However, there is one certainty in selling: the lack of qualified, strong leads will be our demise.
Coming up with (and finding the time to devote to) a full sales pipeline is a constant challenge. Our typical sales cycles tend to trend cyclically. We sell the projects and then we do all of the follow up work to facilitate the success of said project. This can create an up and down effect in our sales.
Finding the time to prospect while we’re selling or managing the projects can be tough. But waiting to prospect until you’re not busy is too late; while you are working on projects, you must set aside time to find, develop and cultivate existing or new relationships that will produce future work.
There are several reasons why we may be reluctant to spend time prospecting:
- Great salespeople are not always great lead generators. They may be fantastic project managers, or perfect when it comes to closing warm leads, but they may struggle to find new opportunities.
- Cold calling blues. Nobody likes to receive cold calls themselves, let alone having to make them. The fear of calling someone they don’t know and asking for new business is very real.
- They waited too long to begin. Prospecting is far more difficult when we wait too long to start and don’t have enough opportunities in the works.
Maybe we don’t have prospecting in our skill set or we’re just not motivated. But these challenges can be overcome with three simple steps: develop your message (concisely), find the right delivery medium and become highly disciplined.
First, know that having the correct message is key. Developing a short, strong message that will instill trust in the party on the other end is crucial. We need to let potential buyers know we can provide them with answers to their problems as well as products and services that will fulfill a need.
Instead of being just another seller, distinguish yourself by finding out exactly why your customers do business with you. What do they admire about you, your business, your products and your services? How have your solutions changed their lives and how could this be a potential solution to your new prospect?
Use that information to create your unique and genuine message. This not only makes you more comfortable with the process of finding and approaching potential clients, it also allows you to start better conversations, ones that are focused on prospects’ needs, and the value you can bring them, rather than your offerings.
Secondly, you will need to determine which means of contact will have the most impact. You want to reach out to prospects in a medium that will guarantee the best results. If you’re reaching out by phone and encounter the “gatekeeper” (the person responsible for screening the calls for the decision makers), find out from that person how best to reach your contact.
Finally, develop a regular schedule. Set aside time daily or weekly to devote solely to generating new leads. You must commit to regularly working to generate new leads. And, don’t stop prospecting when you get new business. Always continue this scheduled lead generation and it will pay off over the long term.
Because this is a key component in your sales strategy, you must also hold yourself accountable to maintain this schedule. Set some personal goals to achieve. Whether it’s daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly, strive to achieve your prospecting goals. Otherwise, it is only a matter of time before your pipeline empties.
Gauging Prospects' Interest