It didn’t always used to be this way, so why is sales prospecting harder than it’s ever been? Here are some reasons, including:
- Prospects are busy. In fact they are busier than ever and that makes them distracted and difficult to reach;
- Prospects intentionally put barriers in the way of salespeople to keep them at bay. This is because prospects are drowning in sales and marketing noise, and they don’t want any more;
- These days, products and services are no more than mere commodities;
- Sales techniques haven’t changed much, and a lot of the salespeople sound and act the same way, with the same jargon.
The fact is that customers today have unprecedented access to information about any products and services online. A simple Google search will reveal everything they want to and need to know before coming into a discussion with a salesperson. And even if their information is not completely accurate, prospects are still highly informed. Making it ever more difficult to sell to them. Add to that an ever diminishing attention span, and you’ve got your job cut out for you. So how do you manage prospecting and get through to your potential customers?
Find Are The Real Prospects
Everyone is not your customer. And on a list of prospects, everyone is not a real prospect. At least not at that time. An easy way to define a real prospect is someone who both needs and can afford your service/product. Once you have that breakdown, you can break it down even further.
- Prospects that need and can afford what you’re selling
- Prospects that can afford what you’re selling but don’t need it right now
- Prospects who will need and will be able to afford what you’re selling in the distant future
The first group is the one you should prospect heavily to. The second group you can market to on a regular basis via email or even snail mail, but no phone calls except once or twice a year. The third group are likely to become real prospects down the line, so contact them once a quarter. Anyone not easily categorized into these three groups is not a prospect and you should waste no further time on them. This way, you’re only concentrating on the real prospects and will be able to customize your messages to them.
Getting through to a prospect isn’t a one time process. We’ve already discussed all the sales noise prospects face every day, from radio to TV to the internet. Studies show that it takes anywhere from seven to eleven contacts before an average prospect will respond. The same message each time isn’t going to do the trick either. You must have a prospecting program that is consistently touching each of your first tier prospects using a number of different messaging formats.
Use Value Based Language
When you’re emailing a prospect or leaving them a voicemail, or if you’ve managed to get a face to face meeting, ask them questions to determine what they value. When you know what they value, you will be able to explain thing to them in a way that shows your company can deliver that value. Ultimately, you want language that captures a prospect’s attention, conveys value, makes them feel comfortable sharing sensitive information with you and then compels them to make some sort of a commitment.
Prospecting is not just something a sales professional will do to fill her pipelines. It’s a mindset, a way of working every day. Buyers nowadays are well informed, price sensitive and mostly hesitant to engage with sales people. Therefore a good sales person will focus on what the prospects value and care about. It’s never about you or your company or your product’s features. It’s always about what the prospect wants and needs. Being disciplined in your prospecting approach and having a plan will show you the results you want.