Editor’s Note: This post is part of our special 1-week series on sales prospecting, from experts on the subject.
Like it or not, prospecting is the key to your sales success. You may have wonderful opportunities in your sales funnel today. You will either win or lose these opportunities and deplete your funnel. No matter how good a salesperson you are, you will not be successful with a depleted sales funnel. Here are 5 keys to ensure you have a replenished sales funnel and non-stop sales success:
1. Clear out your funnel! This is an often overlooked step, but, it is the critical first step. We will not experience the urgent need to prospect as long as we delude ourselves. We delude ourselves with the belief that we have lots of opportunities in our funnel. We keep believing that if we close a small percentage of them, we’ll be fine. Be ruthless and clear out your funnel! If your opportunities are not engaged in a next meeting, they are questionable. Reach out to the contacts of questionable deals and ask them if you should stay or go. If they want a solution from you, they will respond. If they don’t respond, you have your answer. Once your funnel is right-sized and reflects reality, you will see why you need to prospect.
2. Be clear about your target market! Contrary to popular belief, you are not trying to sell your products to as many people as possible. Rather, you are in the business of helping the people who need your help. To find a needle in a haystack, you need to know you are looking for a needle. Look at your best customers, and the attributes they have that make them attractive to you. Look at how they articulate the problems they’ve asked you to help them solve. Use this information to focus your list-building efforts and your messaging.
3. Work with a process! The same way you have a sales funnel with stages, you should have a lead funnel with stages. For example, leads might go through a process such as:
a. Lead list
b. Attempted contact
c. Made contact
d. Booked meeting
f. Drip, drop or delay
When working with a lead management process, you will remain organized. You’ll have very clear objectives for each contact that you make.
4. Be disciplined! Decide up front how many leads you need to be successful. To do this, use a required activity calculator. A required activity calculator looks at the key elements that drive your success. For example, it will examine your average deal size, your sales cycle, your win rate and your quota. If you need a template for this, please reach out to me here. Once you’ve calculated this number, break it down to a weekly target of required first meetings. You should be clear on how many contacts you need to make to get one first meeting. Schedule the appropriate amount of time each week to prospect. Treat this time as you would any other appointment.
5. Use a script! Most people have an aversion to scripts. They believe that by using a script they will not sound believable. The opposite is true! By not using a script, you end up fumbling for words and feeling stressed about trying to get your words out right. A script is nothing more than a guide. The more fluent you become with your script, the more believable you become. By having a script, you can tweak your words for greatest impact with your target audience. Remember – the only purpose of your initial contact with a prospect is to book a first meeting. In the first meeting you can spend more time in a meaningful conversation. A script will enable you to hone your approach to optimize this outcome.
My advice began with clearing out your sales funnel. As difficult as that may be, when you follow this process it becomes fun to clear out your funnel! You’ll realize that there are lots of people in your universe who are a good match for what you do. They have problems that they are hoping you can help them solve. Your sales confidence will grow as you prospect. It will grow as you build a robust mechanism for filling and re-filling your sales funnel. You will drop time-wasters, tire kickers and cheapskates. You’ll make room for the wonderful opportunities awaiting you!