07 Mar A Practical Guide to Sales Prospecting for Non Sales Folks
Mostly everyone I meet asks, “What do you do?” They are so intrigued by my lifestyle to work anywhere in the world. I tell them, “Sales Enablement AI” and often, I get a blank stare. That’s how I feel when a Japanese hosts approaches me to explain what to do in there establishment.
So in this post, I’ll break down a practical guide to sales prospecting, mostly for those who are not in sales or those who are interested in starting their career in sales.
Information is power. However, with the ever increasing access to information, engaging buyers is a chaotic battle for attention. Buyers control the sales process and we have two resources of control: the platform to send a message and the content created within.
Long gone is the era when, upon realizing a need, buyers picked up phones and called a few companies to get information, advice and pricing among other things. Also, we have past the time when a sales rep picked up the phone, reached a decision maker and helped them uncover a need they never knew existed.
For several decades, buyers only relied on sales reps to find info they needed to make a purchasing decision. But this is no longer the case. Today, about two-thirds of the purchasing process is done digitally, through online content.
To sustain business, sales professionals must stick by Millennial rules of prospecting. So how do you adapt to these new trends? In this post, we discuss the basics of sales prospecting techniques that work.
Prospecting Tip #1: Identify and Hyper-focus on your Target Client Profile (TCP)
It’s a kaleidoscope of cultures out there. There are all sorts of people, company sizes, industries and sub-cultures. Know where to start or prepare to waste your time and money.
Take time to research what your ideal customer profile is and research your own database. Use these questions as a general rule of guideline:
- Why will buyers purchase your platform or service?
- Why would buyers choose your platform or servicer over competitors?
- Why would buyers not purchase your platform and service?
Embrace the “Why” to have more insight into the identity of your client profile. A customer will purchase your platform or service because they have a use case that is troublesome. Moreover a customer will choose your platform/service over competitors if they believe in your company’s vision.
Figure out who your top 5 customers are and who your worst clients are. Profile your customers according to how profitable they are for your business and who are most likely to be more sentimental about your brand. Don’t just assume that just because you are using the company as your database, the entire list fits your customer profile.
After carefully researching, use both the existing customer list and the profile to find other businesses that match these criteria. This strategy will keep you focused rather than splattering paint on the canvas to see what sticks.
Prospecting Tip #2: Build a strong personal brand
A strong personal brand is an indicator that you actively participate in your industry. It is sure to generate more inquiries from your industries’ community. It also leads to more responses when corresponding.
When sales prospects are in charge of pre-qualifying prospective sellers, it’d be suicidal to be disqualified from a buying process only because you lack personal brand.
To bring your A-game, give your personal brand consistent attention since an unattended online presence is sure to go stale.
Sales Prospecting Tip #3: Be a trusted resource
Selling is never enough. Your customer must see you as the go-to person and it’s crucial to offer support even after closing the deal. By moving from your position of a salesperson to a product expert that provides service solutions, your chances of getting referrals and upsells will increase. When it comes to introducing yourself to a new prospect, draw on the referrals. Be a resource to clients, they will most likely appreciate your efforts and will not shy away from helping you in return.
Sales Prospecting Tip #4: Teach, Don’t Sell
The first step in selling is prospecting, not selling. Sourcing leads that you qualify is key to a winning relationship. Do not add a lead that does not meet your TCP requirements. Doing so may lead to a s dead-end or worst — a signup and a chargeback.
My top 3 favorite questions to answer when qualifying:
- How can I help the customer improve use cases and workflows? (Teach Best Solutions)
- Does the customer have authority to sign a contract? (Legal Authority)
- Why should the customer launch the project this month and not delay? (Uncover the Urgency)
It’s only after you’ve taken these steps that you can now start to educate, never selling.
For you to be successful in today’s sales environment, you must focus on relationships even as you prospect. Sell and perish. Don’t risk exerting undue pressure on your prospect. It helps to build a foundation of trust as this will help you as well as the prospect become comfortable with each other. Shift your customer’s paradigm by offering new and improved practices that elevate their day to day work experience. The most effective sales technique is offering value that the client perceives as a need. And that perception is the vehicle to a closed deal.
Don’t stick to the old sales prospecting playbooks because it’s what you’ve been doing. Iterate on different techniques until you discover the perfect blend of effective and modern sales techniques that support your sales goals and prospecting efforts.
Sales Prospecting Tip #5: Targeting
Determining the success of sales prospecting hinges on how strong your target list is and your engagement targeting precision. Sales reps usually call the wrong stakeholder and start a groundswell by working their way through the political landscape of a company. Ensure that your list has verified emails to avoid a high bounce rate. Otherwise, you will lose a whole day of outreach and the servers will mark your domain as a spammer and you most certainly wouldn’t want that.
Sales Prospecting Tip #6: Ask for referrals
In sales, nothing is more important to a salesperson than a happy customer. You can bet that a happy customer will spread word about you. As aptly stated in a Harvard Business Review article of 2003 titled The Number You Need to Grow, the value of a customer doesn’t just end in what they buy, source: https://hbr.org/2003/12/the-one-number-you-need-to-grow.
We live in interconnected days where how your clients feel about you and what they tell others about you have a direct impact on your profits and revenues just as much.
The perfect time to ask for referral is right after making a sale because it’s at this time that the sale experience is still fresh in their minds. Provided the experience was great, the customer’s enthusiasm, goodwill and excitement will show through.
You also need to maintain contact with your customers to make sure that they are still happy and content with your product or service and also with your company. Don’t miss an opportunity to send a birthday greeting. Schedule a sales meeting just to say hi and see how things are going. Also send them invitations to events and share white papers as well as other content you think are of value to them.
Sales Prospecting Tip #7: Always Follow Up
Generally, the fruits of your effort won’t show up on your first contact. To move a lead from lukewarm to hot, you need to hunker down and purposefully work. It means making calls multiple times, sending emails and engaging with social networks like LinkedIn or Twitter. It can be challenging to manage these activities but using your CRM (Customer Relationship Management Platform) capabilities is sure to help you keep on track.
Today’s crop of customers has changed a lot. Gone are the days when customers would look up to sales rep for information. Today, they can search the internet and have all the information before the sales rep even arrives. As such, sales prospecting has changed and if you want to remain in the game, you have no option but to adapt to these new trends.