For the next several months my blog will focus on the attitudes, behaviors and knowledge that makes a great salesperson. I believe that these are fundamental qualities of a great salesperson. Prospecting for new business is important to success in selling. Great salespeople know there are several skills involved in prospecting: getting the attention of the prospect, checking the level of interest or need and setting the first meeting.
When Are Salespeople Prospecting for New Business?
The short answer is: “all the time.” The best source of new business is by getting referrals from your best customers. A referral can be to a colleague in a different business or within the customer’s own company. Great salespeople keep their antennae up for potential opportunities. When casual conversation at a social event strikes an interest, the great salesperson says something like: “I’m interested in knowing more about this. But now is not the time. Might I call you to schedule a time to meet?” Read something interesting in a trade magazine, on-line, or in the paper? Make the call to see who the best person is to talk with about the opportunity. Great salespeople keep the prospecting pipeline filled.
Be Creative When Prospecting For New Business
Think about why customers buy from you. What is unique in what you offer? That’s called your “Unique Selling Proposition.” Unique selling propositions can be tailored to the prospect. What problems does your product or service solve the prospect might have? What benefits have similar customers enjoyed by using your product or service? Perhaps you sell software that keeps track of a large service vehicle fleet. The USP could be knowing where each vehicle is at all times helps direct the vehicle closest to the need. This then increases your customer’s value to their customers while reducing operating costs. Before you approach a prospect craft a USP to grab their attention.
Set The Agenda When Prospecting
Great salespeople know why they want to meet with a prospect. They prepare an agenda which will meet the objective of the sales call. The agenda lists the objective(s) and the approach to accomplish them. Buyers are busy people and easily put off salespeople. Sales people know how to convince buyers they can help them. When asking for a meeting a great salesperson with an objective and approach might sound like this:
“Hello Mr. Buyer. Thank you for taking my call. We met last week at our kids’ soccer match and you invited me to call. I’d like to stop by to find out whether or not our company can help you solve your inventory problem. Would you have time Tuesday morning?”
“Yes, Joe, Tuesday at 9 am would be fine.”
“Great. If you could have the inventory costs available, I’d like to get an understanding of why they concern you.”
The buyer knows who you are and what you want to discuss. You have set an agenda, peaked the buyer’s interest and got a commitment to meet.
Don’t be put off by the prospect. If they say: “Call me in a couple of weeks.” Answer with: “Why don’t we set a date now and I’ll call you in a couple of weeks to confirm?” Or: “Send me a brochure.” Answer with: “I’d prefer to bring the brochure along and introduce myself. I will only stay a few minutes. Do you have your calendar available?”
Great salespeople know that having a reason to meet and an agenda will lead to a meeting. And a side benefit is the salesperson has established control of the sales process.
Diffusing The Prospecting Bomb
So there you are, great salesperson. You have the meeting set with Ms. Buyer. When you show up she mentions she invited Mr. Curmudgeon to sit in. Before you get much past introductions, Mr, Curmudgeon says: “Based on your company’s past performance when we used them several years ago I don’t think we are interested in what you have to offer!” Whoa! Time to “Clear The Air.”
Hopefully you had done your homework and know all about the past relationship. Perhaps you’ll say: “Thank you for bringing that up. That’s why I’m here. I don’t know whether we will do business again. But I do want to apologize for the past problems and tell you what we have done to solve them.” Great salespeople show courage by tackling the problem head on. They go on to explain how they fixed past problems, assure the buying team he will be sure they don’t happpen again and get confirmation that since the problem is fixed they could do business again.
Practice Prospecting For New Business
Great salespeople rehearse each sales prospecting phone call and meeting. Once the agenda and approach are set, create a “script” for how you want the meeting to go. If possible rehearse this with a colleague. Have them throw you a curve ball or two. No doubt the meeting will never goes as you plan it. But you will be better prepared and increase the probability of achieving your goal.
Think About Your Unique Selling Proposition
What makes your offer so unique? The only thing your company has that is truly different from your competitors is YOU! When you get referrals ask them the tell their colleagues why they recommend you. Do you have integrity. Always keep the best interest of the customer in mind. Have a proven track record of solving the problem? Remember while you represent the company you are selling for, the buyer is putting their trust in you. Craft your USP to reflect on you. And do it with appropriate humility.
What You Can Do Right Now About Prospecting For New Business
- Be intentional. Always be aware of potential prospects.
- Be assertive. Work hard to get the first meeting.
- Be prepared. Plan each phone call and meeting
To learn more sales secrets see Chapter Fifteen, Setting Appointments, in Secrets of the Softer Side of Selling. For even more sales encouragement, join our FREE Sales Club! “See” you next week.