Prospecting is not the most glamorous aspect of selling, but without it your sales program is going nowhere fast.
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At least part of prospecting's bad reputation comes from a fundamental misunderstanding about its nature and purpose. If your prospecting program needs a boost, maybe what you really need is a fresh perspective.
Many sales reps view prospecting as just another way to describe cold call selling when, in fact, nothing could be farther from the truth. When prospecting, your goal shouldn't be to close a sale in one phone call. Instead, the goal of prospecting is to qualify sales leads - in other words to begin to build relationships with potential clients and customers.Think of it as an opportunity to introduce yourself (and your business) to new people.
Although the goal of prospecting is to build relationships, not every person you reach out to is going to want to build a relationship with you, at least not initially. Persistence - not annoyance - is the key to getting your foot in the door. A persistent prospector continues to look for opportunities to make connections with a potential client while an annoying one relentlessly imposes himself on the customer in a disrespectful or irritating manner. Customers know the difference and are more likely to reward persistent prospectors while leaving annoying ones out in the cold.
Use a script.
Sales reps are sometimes hesitant to work from a script for fear of sounding too canned in their approach. The problem is that completely improvised prospecting often fails to connect with clients because key points and proven techniques are often set aside in an effort to sound completely original and spontaneous. The most successful prospectors work from a basic script - an outline of material that can be personalized and adapted from customer to customer. You shouldn't read from the script, but instead use it as a guide to direct your conversations.
Believe it or not, prospecting can be fun when you view it as an opportunity to creatively find new ways to connect with clients. E-mails, faxes, voicemail - they all offer avenues to reach out to clients in nontraditional ways, sometimes even using humor as a tool to make contact with hard to reach executives, especially when you've exhausted all of your other options.
Communicate your belief in your product.
Successful prospectors are firm believers in the products and services they have to offer. Potential customers can tell when a sales rep isn't confidant about a product, and if you're not confidant about it, why should they be? Make every effort to communicate passion and excitement about your product to everyone you meet. Even at the end of a hard day - when passion and excitement are the last things on your mind - dig deep to find the enthusiasm you need to accurately represent your product to potential clientele.
Passion or not, you're going to experience rejection when prospecting. Don't take it personally and don't let it get you down. Tomorrow's another day and your dream prospect might be just around the corner.