The month is ending and you are behind on sales again this month. What do you do? It could be time to reach out to your personal network and look for some new prospects to sell your product or service to.
You got into one of the greatest professions in the world for a reason. You can connect with customers at a touch of a button. Today with all the social media available to use from Facebook to your personal website, there is no reason we cannot find new customers.
If you want to close sales, you must get good at finding qualified prospects who could potentially be good customers and clients. One good customer could have a lifetime value into the millions for your company.
Companies hire new and seasoned sales people as they continue to look for new customers to sell their products or services to.
Read any business book, listen to any sales podcast or audio programing and attend any conference or seminar and you hear the importance finding new customers for your business. Click here to ready more about networking your business.
What are Prospects?
Prospects are potential customers for your business. A prospect can be someone with a need for your product or service but is in you sales funnel.
When you prospect, this means you are using all the available tools you have, to find new customers to sell your products or services to.
Attracting new customers to your business, is an important step when looking to create new business, increase market share and earn a pay cheque. Not to mention keep all the employees at your company employed.
Your potential new prospects are the people who will buy from you, but first you must take them through your sales process. Your goal in prospecting is to create a database of qualified potential customer who may or will need what you are selling.
After reading this article you may want to sit with your direct sales manager and come up with a plan on how you can find new prospect and increase your sales for the month.
How to Identify a Good Prospect
A lot of salespeople are wasting time, money, resources and effort trying to find new customers. They are attempting the Shotgun Approach. They try to sell to everyone because they believe, everyone is a prospect, when this is not always true.
What we fail to do is qualify the potential prospect before we try to sell them anything. This means we should discover the prospects needs and then fill them with our products or services.
What criteria make a good prospect? Anyone who needs your product or service to complete their work faster. Anyone who can make more money, find efficiencies in their business, pay you on time and is likely to purchase on an ongoing basis.
How Many Contacts Should You Have in Your Sales Funnel?
All successful salespeople make sure they have enough qualified prospects to achieve their sales goals on a month to month basis. To become a great salesperson, you must learn how to grow your ability to attract different customers to sell too.
You should never run out of qualified prospects as a sales professional. Your sales team should be finding your prospects to work with or you need to find prospects to work with.
If you are not finding new prospects to work with, then you are not finding ways to create new business for yourself. As a sales professional, you may be able to do that for one month, but a few months in a row and you could be looking for a new job.
How to Find Prospects
Before you start to believe you need new prospects, look at your current sales funnel and see where there are opportunities to close some sales. Took at your sales funnel and figure out where in the sales cycle you are strong and where you may need some help.
You may just need to tweak a few things in your process and this could increase your sales.
When you review your sales funnel, this will let you know where you are compared to where you want to be, based on the targets you have set.
All salespeople know that sales is the life line of their business. Unless you think you do not need to grow your sales funnel, new sales prospects are needed. Before you start prospecting, you will need to establish some sales goals and plan on how you will succeed in meeting those targets.
If you are not sure how to set goals, request a meeting with your sales manager and set some goals for you to reach. Your manager will help you understand how many people you need to talk to daily to have a successful month.
Once you know exactly how many people you need to talk to, then you can decide how many new prospects you need to add to your sales funnel. This will also tell you how many people you need to close so you can reach your targets.
Review what the industry average to close sales are in your line of work. Then review what your closing ratio is. Figure out if you are over or under. If you are under then get some help to increase your closing ratio.
Sometimes you could be saying something that does not resonate with your customer. This often happens when you do not understand their personality type. The better you understand the person in front of you, the better your chance to close the sale.
Before you start looking for new prospects, you need to game plan to predict your sales success. This mean you will need to do some simple math so you can understand what a successful month looks like.
Let’s say the average sales person in your industry closes 2 out of every 10 opportunities. Let’s also say your goal is 10 closed sales each month.
The math says you will need to talk to 50 people each month to hit your target monthly. This does not mean you only make 50 phone calls. What this means is your need to add 50 qualified leads to your sales funnel.
Why Some Sales People Are Not Good Prospecting
Fear of Rejection
Many people are not good at finding new prospects for their products or services to. If you want to be good at sales, then get used to the reality that you will be said no to.
Don’t fear rejections. Instead embrace it as an opportunity to ask more questions and handle objections. Most of the time sales people give up at the first sign price is brought up. We need to learn to sell value not price.
This is one of the biggest reasons most sales professionals fail. They don’t want to hear NO, so they talk themselves out of a sale, new customer and even asking for referrals.
If you have heard yourself say one of the lines below, notice the excuses you are giving yourself on why you should not succeed.
- The prospect is already happy with the product or server they have.
- I can’t compete with company X because of their price.
- I’m a woman and some men don’t want to buy from a woman.
- I’m sure the prospect is too busy to see me today.
- They will say NO to me because I’m too young. They will never take me seriously.
- My company is small and they have a million-dollar business, they probably want to deal with someone large than us.
- I heard someone tried to sell them before and the company was not interested then, I’m sure they have not changed their minds.
- The prospect probably is to old and they will not get the technology behind my product or service.
We tell ourselves these lies because we do not want to hear NO. If we take the chance we increase ability to make millions of dollars in our lifetime.
It is easier to go for the low-lying fruit but if we reach out we might find that the fruit which seems out of reach, is reaching for us.
We must realize that the customer is not saying NO to us. Rather we need to believe the customer is going to buy a similar product, so it should be from us.
Have A Positive Mental Attitude and You Will Succeed
To overcome rejection, you must have a positive attitude.
What is a Positive Mental Attitude? It is believing in yourself. It is knowing that you can sell anything to anyone and everyone you talk to needs or wants your product or service.
If you believe in what your product can do, then you should strongly believe that everyone needs your product in their hands. If we do not attempt to present our product to the prospect, then we will fail to get the YES.
Successful sales professionals know that a list of potential buyers will lead then through a successful the sales cycle, where they will find success. There positive attitude will add to their confidence when finally dealing with the customer face to face.
It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we have the confidence and realize people need what we are offering.
If you feel your being pushy and do not want to come off aggressive, that’s normal. I have found that customers will tell you if you are stepping over the line so this is something you do not have to worry about.
There is nothing wrong with asking prospects to do business with you. From a customer’s view point, they are waiting for you to ask them to do business with them.
Different ways to Find New Prospects
Before we go through unique approaches to find and add prospects to your sales funnel, you need to know where to search for prospects.
Prospects are everywhere you go to live your day-to-day life. Depending on your line of work, you may find it easier to talk to people about your product or service.
You’re not only a sales person when you are in your office. To become a successful sales professional, you should learn to target new customers when you are not at work. Everyone you talk to could be a potential buyer today or in the future. The one consideration you make is how many people will you talk today?
When you are prospecting new business, you need to be deliberate in your plan of action. Do not be like most sales agents who feel that they can just “wing it” and make their monthly targets. Click here and find out how you can put together a fantastic sales presentation.
What do some of the best sales people do to increase sales? They:
- Check Current Files – This means they prospect the customers that are already doing business with.
- Ask Network with People They Know – People that they know can benefit from their product. They know if they do not ask their direct network, someone else will. They understand if friends don’t buy from them, then they need to ask for referrals.
- Take Part in Industry Gatherings – It is a great place to meet people, network and find new clients who are looking for your product or service.
- Ask Current Customers for A Referral – Building good relationships and ask satisfied customers for names and numbers of people they feel can also benefit from product or service.
- Ask Current Customers for Introductions –A warm hand off to a new prospect, shows that you are a trusted person to do business with.
- Check Business Listings – You can find prospects in trade associations and Chambers of Commerce listings for your business segment.
Researching Your Prospect
Send out a letter or email explaining who you are and what you do. Include any helpful information that will help prospects understand your product. Don’t forget to include your and your companies name.
This is one way to connect with your customers but does not seem to be as effective as picking up the phone.
These day companies receive hundreds of emails each day and yours can get lost. Make phone calls an important part of your sales process. If you do not get a hold of the decision maker. Leave a message letting them know when you will be calling back.
After you have left the date and time you will follow-up, you need to have enough information about your customer to have an educated conversation so you can set up a face to face meeting if necessary.
One thing you can do is call their office and chat with the secretary and ask a few questions to find to the information you need. If the secretary is not busy, I am sure he or she will help you.
You should visit the company’s website and learn all you can about the company, their products and services and how your product or service can help them improve sales, their bottom line and/or increase customer satisfaction.
Your phone call and conversation is not about you and your product, it is about solving the customers perceived problems.
The more strategies you can combine the better your results and the better chance you will have for a face to face meeting and a closed sale as you take the customer through your sales process.
Planning Your Approach
If you want to be successful, then you must have plan. Take your time at this step. This one step make or break your sales presentation. Click here to read more about what it takes to develop the foundation of a successful mindset.
Once you have your approached written out, it is time to practice and adjust until you have it just right.
Once you get your approach down. Call the client and ask for the face to face meeting. Don’t quite because they say NO or if don’t have time. Be persistent and do not give up. Many times, you may have to ask for a meeting that is not during regular business hours.
Making the Phone Call
Once you have your basic approach figured out do not be afraid to experiment with different approaches based on the different personalities you will be dealing with. Everyone you talk to will not relate to your one approach.
Before you call, make sure you understand what you are hoping to achieve on your phone call. Your goal is to add names of qualified prospects to your sales funnel. Your goal is not always to close the sale on your first sales call.
Depending on what you are selling, the sales cycle of your product might be days to months and even years.
The goal your hoping to achieve is to build enough value to get a face to face meeting.
When calling the prospect ask for them by name and introduce yourself right away. We know the prospects name because we did our homework before we called.
Ask the prospect for a few moments of their time and find out what the prospect does at the company. This includes if they oversee the final purchase decision or if someone else is. Sometimes the people we think we need to talk to, are not the people who make the final buying decision. If we spend a lot of time in the wrong place it makes our sales cycle longer than it needs to be.
Ask open-ended questions. This will get the prospect talking and all you do is listen and take notes.
You can only get to this step if you have asked enough good questions to understand the prospect business needs.
If the person you are talking to is not the decision maker ask to be transferred to the right person. If the person you are talking to is the decision maker then you need to:
- Find out what competitive products or service they are currently using.
- Ask what the prospect enjoys about their current products or services.
- Find out why they purchased that product or service from the competing company.
- Ask what the prospect would change about the current product or service.
These four questions will help you understand the way your buyer makes decisions. When the prospect tells you what they would change or what they do not like, you can now tailor your presentation and show how your product will satisfy their needs.
You can do this by asking questions and having the prospect talk. Lead the customer down your decision process.
Tell your prospect a few benefits and advantages of your product or service. Remember you are not looking to sell, you are only checking interest.
Asking for The Opportunity to Do Business
This is an important step that many salespeople get wrong. They forget to ask for the right to do business with the prospect. Let prospects know you want their business and are willing to work for it.
Even though the prospect is doing business with a competitor, they will be happy to do business with a friendly face if the time is right or even in the future when opportunity presents itself.
Points to Consider
When finding new prospects know that each person you talk with is different. How you handle each relationship will be important to your success. You will find some prospects are easy to work with and others are demanding.
When you are on the phone with the prospect, know two statements will come up:
- They will only do business with the company with the best price – This is when you will need to show the value of your product or service, if your price is higher.
- Customers will ask you to do some research or send out an email – Do not do a lot of work, just to find out the customer is not interested. Find out what it will take to earn their business and get the prospects commitment before you start doing the work.
The life line to your success, in a sales career, is going to come from you looking for new prospects. Once you stop looking, your career will soon come to an end.
Read this article on how to handle work stress if you have been working hard and not getting the results you have been working for.
Understand it is going to take some work to find new customers and build the confidence in yourself.
Salespeople who do the necessary prior planning will find that they will have more success compared to those who do not plan.
What one concept will you apply today to find new prospects?
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Founder and CEO, Discover Your Life Today
Maveen has built his career in Banking, Insurance, Home and Automobile Sales. Providing exceptional customer service is his passion. Writing is a way to share his knowledge and help change the lives of million of people. Like the Facebook Page to support him.