Monday, February 14, 2011

Sales: Prospecting is the Key to Sales Success

A recent poll of Engage customers revealed a shocking habit. When asked, “How much time per day do you spend prospecting” 29% responded less than 1 hour a month prospecting for new business, 44% less than half a day, and only 17% at least one full day per month. Pathetic!! Considering that prospecting is the number one secret to sales success there must be a number of struggling sales professional out there. I can't say this often or emphatically enough, “There is no sales problem that good prospecting skills can’t solve.”

I know that you are getting tired of me spouting off about this, it’s just that 80% of sales people still don’t get it.

I frequently coach sales reps who know exactly what to say, when to say it, and have terrific, well-priced products. But they still can’t sell. Why? Because they have no prospects waiting in their sales funnel to qualify and close. And if you don’t have any prospects, you can’t make any sales. Period. To ensure you have a steady stream of new business opportunities, the following is a quick two-step process that I use in many of my coaching sessions, which can help you be more proactive with your prospecting each and every week:

Step 1: Evaluate. First, how many prospects do you really need? In most industries, you can use the average metric of about 25 "suspects" - or 3 qualified prospects - for every sale. A suspect is a cold prospect. You have an inkling that they should be interested in your product, but you haven't talked to them yet, and they haven't contacted or been referred to you.

A qualified prospect is someone who you know has a need for your product, and a desire to buy it from someone. They also have the money to spend, and the power to make the transaction happen. To find out how many prospects you should have in your sales funnel, just multiply the number of new customers you need each year, by the number of suspects or qualified prospects it will probably take to get them.

Step 2: Execute. Once your target is set, you can start to work towards achieving it through the following four key prospecting techniques:

1) Get referrals.
Referred leads are a profitable way to grow your business, as well as a good benchmark for how well you're building your business relationships. The “holy grail” in lead generation is to receive leads from your customers without asking for them. These unsolicited referrals are proof that you've earned so much trust and loyalty that your existing customers have become your sales reps! The more leads you get, the more satisfied your existing customers likely are, and the better the job you're doing.

2) Network.
In any career, success or failure is a direct result of our networks, and the people we know. As the old saying goes, "take care of your people (or, in this case, your network), and your business will take care of itself.” For all their differences in approach, style and technique, the top 10% of sales people all have one thing in common: they are all more likely to employ a broad network of friends, family, acquaintances and connections to help them seize opportunities, and respond to challenges.

3) Be a Life Giver.
Life Givers know that what goes around, comes around. They understand the power of reciprocity, and use it to their advantage. So don't hoard your contacts. Open your proverbial Rolodex, and start making introductions. Be the first at an event or party to provide a contact to someone you've just met, rather than waiting for them to give you something first. Once you start sharing your contacts and making connections with and for others, it won't be long before your clients and contacts start returning the favor in spades.

4) Make the calls.
Last but not least, those sales reps who are at the top of their profession almost always have a short, precise "To Do" list, which relates directly to achieving their goals for the year. Right at the top of your list should be the number of prospecting calls you're going to make every day. And to make sure it gets done, keep your list short - probably no more than 4 to 5 items a day - and make sure it gets done first thing in the morning, before all those other inevitable little "fires" can create excuses for getting to work. By carrying out your To Do list each day without fail, you'll find your number of prospects will grow - and your business soar - faster than you ever thought possible.

If you liked this article, check out They have some great sales tips. Enjoy!