Effective prospecting puts an end to cold calling
July 5, 2004
“Why won’t my salespeople prospect? All they ever do is complain that they don’t have enough leads.”
In the first article of this series we looked at marketing, which can be one of the main contributors to this lament.
In the second article we looked at another major contributor, not hiring the right salespeople.
The third looked at reasons most salespeople do not like to prospect, a major contributor being equating prospecting with cold calling.
We discussed three ways to prospect that are not cold calling: selling more to existing customers; asking satisfied customers for referrals; and networking.
These are all relatively easy ways to generate business that are comfortable for most salespeople.
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Done consistently these can generate a lot of business but may not be enough.
The only other thing most salespeople know to do is cold call.
In this article we will look at how to generate new business by running an effective prospecting campaign.
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.
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? 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 sales or less.
I want to make 10 to 20 high quality contacts and get 5 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 and 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.
Step 1: Identify 10 – 15 companies at a time as your targets.
These should be companies you feel would be ideal as customers.
Step 2: Research the companies.
Check the web site, annual report,Wall Street Journal, recent articles, Internet, and trade journals.
Call a salesperson and ask for their marketing materials.
You are looking for information to confirm that the company or division is a good target.
Step 3: Find the names of three to five people in the organization who are most likely to be interested in your solution and at a level that they can make a decision.
Get their addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers or call the main number at the corporate office and ask for it.
Step 4: Plan a “Four Hit” campaign.
Determine where you are in the sales process before starting so that you can plan your campaign appropriately.
Any combination of direct mail, email, fax, voicemail, phone, face-to-face visit, advertising or PR can be utilized.
Be sure all “Four Hits” are received by the prospect within a four- to six-week period.
All “Hits” must include a call to action.
Each “Hit” must be sent out to all contacts simultaneously.
Make a timeline and calendar of all the action items to complete the “Four Hit” campaign.
Design the entire campaign and do Step 5 prior to executing.
Step 5: Plan the calls.
Write out a call plan before each call or visit.
Be sure to have a list of four to six well-thought-out questions that will qualify the prospect by determining their needs.
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.
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.
Step 6: 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 or on the phone.
The program I authored for Action Strategies called Target Prospecting goes into great detail on prospecting campaigns and effective selling.
If you are interested in more information, please visit http://www.action-strategies.com I’d love to hear your stories about prospecting and motivating salespeople to prospect.
Please send stories to stories@ aliceheiman.com or email me with questions.
Heiman owns and manages ARH Consulting, LLC, The Sales Experts, a sales consulting firm based in Reno.