“Generally, the best salespeople are the ones who are the best at prospecting, mostly because they have more discipline and a better mindset than others.” — Anthony Iannarino.
Prospecting is not just one single aspect of sales; it is the foundation of a successful sales strategy. In other words, prospecting is the “alpha action” you must take to move forward. Importantly, prospecting is at the top of the sales funnel. Every subsequent act toward the successful execution of the sale depends on the reliability and effectiveness of your prospecting. Consequently, understanding this can determine whether you profit or perish in the competitive environment of B2B sales.
The fundamentals of prospecting begin with relationships
It’s irrefutable that sales and relationships go together. They are as inseparable as a smartphone and the internet. For instance, every salesperson knows that you must open the relationship before you can close the sale. However, opening relationships requires certain focus and attention to be successful. While working with sales interns, I would draw the parallels of prospecting to dating. To gain the favor of a date, you need to do the research and find your shared commonalities. Subsequently, the fundamentals of prospecting are much like life.
Prospecting is personal
“To prospect successfully, you must focus your time and energy on the methods that work best for you,” says Iannarino in his article, “7 Ways to Be Better at Prospecting.” Therefore, everyone must find their level of comfort with the myriad of prospecting choices available. But he admits, “Part of the problem is that different situations call for different approaches – so it helps to have a handful of tips and tricks on your side instead of going in cold.” Above all, when sorting out the fundamentals of prospecting, you must find what you are good at and do more of it.
Be consistent and prospect every day
Challenge yourself to set aside time and energy to focus on prospecting each workday. First, sync your calendar with your prospect contact list. Second, make the phone calls or compose the emails to your qualified prospects each morning. Before you start, turn off your phone, your email and all distractions. Importantly, you must focus on prospecting ONLY. In doing so, you will find at the end of the month, that your pipeline holds a continuous stream of possibilities and solid opportunities. In short, trust that following the fundamentals of prospecting will bring actionable results.
Be honest and challenge your prospecting effectiveness
There comes a time when you must stand back and honestly assess your prospecting approach. If the pipeline is full, celebrate! Otherwise, it’s time for a critical appraisal of your time spent and your overall effectiveness. Again, the fundamentals of prospecting must be acknowledged. I turn to Ianarrino once more for his guidance provided in “The Five Enormous Mistakes in Your Prospecting Sequence.” Obviously, his disdain for the fully automated sequences initiated by website response forms is unmistakable. Spamming your best prospect is no way to build a relationship! Instead, he suggests some alternatives to improve effectiveness:
- Pick up the phone and be ready to talk.
- Leave a value-laden voicemail if there is no direct conversation.
- Create a follow-up email with relevant insight, value and advice.
- Include your credentials with your signature.
Your prospect needs a trusted advisor
Your ability to identify a good prospect and to understand their needs is central to building a lasting relationship. When you rely on the fundamentals of prospecting, you can be assured that you are crushing your competition. Ianarrino says it best, “Giving prospecting your full attention is going to produce better results than your distracted, undisciplined peer group will produce.”
In his book, "SalesCred," our CEO C. Lee Smith writes that sales credibility is how the buyer qualifies (or disqualifies) the seller. Credibility is the very thing that determines whether the buyer replies to your email, agrees to take a meeting or decides they want to do business with you.
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash
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