Prospecting is the art of opening new relationships. The new business opportunities that later turn into sales are initially identified through prospecting, making prospecting the lifeblood of sales. It’s important to constantly be forming and working on these long term relationships, as they form solid leads and solid profits for the future of your business.
A key element of prospecting is creating attention and interest – then being able to convert that interest into a conversation, and that conversation into a relationship.
Note: Prospecting is not about finding an immediate buyer. Most sales people try to identify those already searching for a product – where usually you are not at the top of their mind. It’s key to stir attention, interest and desire. That way, you will be the frontrunner. You will be the one that makes them think: "Well… maybe I do need some help?”
Prospecting can either be established in either one of two ways;
- Referrals within industry
- Direct Contact
Referrals are when you situate yourself in a clients’ eye as someone that is worthy to work with their friends, family and other industry relevant consumers. They want to recommend you – and the best sales people are always on the lookout for good referrals. Satisfied B2B customers can bring in a constant supply of prospects through other businesses they may work with – you just have to ask.
Direct contact can be achieved through cold calling, email outreaches, or even physically turning up at their office to have a chat about your offering.
Unlike referrals or ready-to-buy hot leads, cold calling and cold prospects take time and energy to warm up – just like the name suggests.
But you don’t want to waste your time reaching out to every Tom, Dick and Harry! Think about and identify your potential prospects – similar industry pairs are a good start. Think peanut butter and bread… Businesses that naturally go together.
Once you have identified these prospects it’s important to go through a screening process, and ensure that they qualify. Especially seen in the case of forming referral relationships. The main drawback from prospecting is the strength of your list and the precision of your targeting. Basically, if you can truly see the relationship being beneficial for both parties, go for it. Reading them personally is a good start and getting an idea of their own business plan and work ethics – before you sink a lot of resources into trying to build a relationship.
Once clearly identified and understood, you can reach to make an offer:
- “We understand that you are not entirely happy with the way your A is implemented, we can offer you B and C to increase A exponentially” …
- “We would like to work together to make a better offer for the consumers, would you consider referring us for A to your consumers?”
You also need to ensure that during and after that meeting or phone call, you have clearly established the next step in this relationship – what you believe should happen next and make sure that it does. We don’t want to leave any room for interpretation or for you to slip through the cracks.
Finally, make sure you follow up!
This sales process is going to take time, as mentioned above; you will not necessarily be seeking customers that want to buy in right this second. After an initial meeting, give them a follow up call! Ask if they have thought about your offer and if they have any further questions. Even from there – add them onto a mailing list so you can keep in touch and keep them informed. This is a long term bridge you are building, not a temporary one.
What are you so afraid of? That they will say no?