“Why won’t salespeople prospect? All they ever do is complain that they don’t have enough leads.” I’ve heard this too many times, from the sales leaders I work with.
Whose job is it to generate leads? Some say it is marketing that should be generating qualified leads for salespeople.
I’ve heard it said, “Salespeople should never prospect.” That’s just not realistic. With proper process and training, salespeople can become very good at prospecting. Running a prospecting campaign should be a joint effort between marketing and sales, but the truth is that most salespeople are left to do this on their own.
Prospecting does not equal cold calling
My feeling is that cold calling is inefficient, ineffective and mostly a waste of everyone’s time.
- How many of you like to receive cold calls?
- How many of you make a purchase from a cold call?
- How many of you enjoy cold calling and are really good at it?
Not to say that it doesn’t work, because it can if it is done as part of a campaign.
Effective Prospecting Campaigns
Effective prospecting campaigns have to be more than picking up the phone and trying to reach the person on the list. If they are not well planned, it becomes a pure numbers game. The more numbers dialed, the more likely you are to find someone who will buy. Personally, I don’t want to make 100 calls to get 10 live answers to find 1 person I can have a conversation with. I want to make 10 high quality contacts, have great conversations with them, and get 5 or more sales.
“A prospecting campaign is very similar to a resume, in that a good resume gets you an interview (not the job) with someone that can hire you. A good prospecting campaign gets you an appointment with someone who can buy from you.”
I have been very successful using the method below for my company, as have my clients. To be successful, the sales managers need to teach their salespeople to execute this process as well as monitor, encourage and reward the behaviors necessary for the process to work.
Each salesperson should follow these steps.
Identify 10 – 15 companies at a time as your targets. These should be companies you feel would be “ideal” as customers.
Research the companies. Google. Check the website, social media, annual report, recent articles, and trade journals. Call a salesperson and ask for their marketing materials. Ask a few questions. You are looking for information to confirm that the company or division is a good target.
Find the names of 3 – 5 people in the organization who are most likely to be interested in your solution and at a level that they can make a decision. Google. Find them on social media. See if they are on the team page of the website. Get their addresses and phone numbers. Call the main number at the corporate office and ask for them. All they can say is “no” and be prepared to be transferred to the person you ask for.
LinkedIn is a great place to find names and emails as well as learn about your prospects.
Plan a multi-touch campaign. Determine where you are in the sales process before starting so that you can plan your campaign appropriately. Are you prospecting a current client? Were they a past client? Are they on a list from a trade show, so you know they have some interest?
Any combination of direct mail, email, social media, fax (yes, in some industries they still respond to fax), voicemail, phone, face-to-face visit, advertising or PR can be utilized.
Be sure all of the touches are received by the prospect within a four to six week period. All touches must include a call to action. Each touch must be sent out to all contacts simultaneously.
Make a timeline and calendar of all the action items to complete the multi-touch campaign. Design the entire campaign and do Step 5 prior to executing.
Plan the calls. Write out a call plan before each call, email, social message or visit. Write all the emails. Be sure you have an engaging message. Be sure to have a list of 4 – 6 well thought-out questions that will qualify the prospect by determining their needs. Questions that will get them talking.
List a few pieces of information you want to be sure to deliver. Don’t do a data dump on the prospect.
Think about what you are willing to commit to as a next step, and what commitment you would like from the prospect as a result of the call.
If making calls, plan the voicemail you will leave. Write down exactly what you will say if you plan to leave voicemails or if you get voicemail instead of the person you are calling.
Plan the follow up. Be sure that whatever you promise to deliver as a result of the campaign, you execute with excellence. The face-to-face visit, phone appointment, demo, fulfillment package should all be done in a professional and timely manner.
Remember, a prospecting campaign should result in an appointment with the person or people who are most likely to purchase what you are selling. Your prospecting efforts should peak their interest enough that they schedule an appointment with you face-to-face, by skype or video conference or on the phone.
I’d love to hear your stories about prospecting and motivating salespeople to prospect. Please leave a comment.