Prospecting is essential to any sales endeavor, but is often overlooked or poorly implemented. In order for prospecting to be successful, it is essential that it become both a priority and a habit. Additionally, it is essential that you understand your prospect and choose your methods of communication appropriately. Implementing these steps will help to improve prospecting results.

Make It a Priority

Although everyone knows that the prospecting is important to the success of any company that relies on sales, it rarely becomes a priority. It is often put off in favor of tasks that provide instant gratification. Prospecting must become a priority. This requires:

  • Scheduling: Choose a time for prospecting. Many experts advise people to schedule prospecting early in the day, but you need to choose the time that is effective for you and your prospects
  • Preparation: Prepare what you will say ahead of time, but be flexible. Do not simply read a script.
  • Professionalism: Remain professional throughout the process. Do not allow a negative attitude towards prospecting affect your communication.

Identify Your Ideal Prospect

Prospecting is time consuming, which is why it is necessary to identify ideal prospects before beginning the process. Your ideal prospect is your ideal customer. Your company is able to fulfill the needs and wants of your ideal customer. Conduct research to determine who benefits from your product. The information that you must find beyond how your product meets client needs includes the following:

  • Values and priorities
  • Budgets
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Buying habits
  • Profession
  • Interests

Once you have identified the ideal customer, you will be able to focus time on prospects who are likely to become your customers. 

Choose Prospecting Methods

There are numerous prospecting methods available, and we will cover them in greater depth in a later module. While you will probably choose multiple methods of prospecting, you must focus your energy on methods that your prospects will respond to when they are exposed to them. For example, younger prospects are less likely to respond to cold calling and more likely to respond to social networking and webinars. Prospecting methods that are commonly used include:

  • Cold calling
  • Referrals
  • Content marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Networking
  • Seminars
  • Social networking
  • Webinars
  • Advertising

Make It a Habit

It is not enough for prospecting to become a priority; it needs to become a habit. There is a common misconception that habits are easily made within 21 days. Recent studies, however, show that it takes roughly 66 to 200 days. When you first decide to make a new habit, the first few days are easy. After the honeymoon phase ends, it is easy to become disillusioned and fall back into old habits. When this happens, it is important to focus on the positive outcomes and follow your schedule of prospecting activities. After struggling through this phase, prospecting will become second nature. In order to truly make prospecting a habit, you need to ensure that you are working at it daily. 

Case Study

Henry and Jim are both experienced at sales. Jim spends an hour each day prospecting. Henry spends half that time, but he continually makes higher sales than Jim does. Jim is frustrated that so much of his time seems to be wasted. He decides to discuss Henry’s strategy with him. Henry explains that he carefully screens people to find prospects that are most likely to become customers. By focusing on ideal prospects, Henry is able to close more sales. Jim realizes that he needs to focus on finding the best prospects rather than spending time contacting people who are unlikely customers.