Prospecting is daunting and yes it’s the most boring part of sales. But you can’t think of doing all the fancy stuffs without this. What will you negotiate if you don’t have a deal, to whom will you talk if you don’t have a qualified lead. I have seen sales people craving for validated leads. That’s the only thing they want but they don’t want to get their hands dirty, pick up the phone and start calling.
One of the reason is we don’t know the objectives of prospecting. We don’t know the right way to engage with a customer. I have always found it hard to talk to someone on phone. Not because I didn’t want to, but only because I didn’t know what outcome do I want and hence what will I talk.
But after reading Jeb Blont’s Fanatical prospecting, I have realized that my prospecting has improved a lot and I can’t think of spending a single day without getting in to this activity.
According to Jeb, there are 4 core objective of prospecting :
1. Set an appointment
2. Gather information and qualify
3. Close a Sale
4. Build Familiarity
Objectives will differ based on product, service, sales, industry and your prospect base.
Prospecting is not for building relationships, selling or chatting up your buyer. It’s for setting appointment, qualifying, building familiarity and if possible closing the deal. You don’t need brilliant scripts. You don’t need complex strategies. You don’t need to over complicate it.
Setting an appointment : An appointment is when a prospect is expecting you. He has accepted your calendar invite and have clearly given a confirmation that he has blocked your time. Appointment is primary objective when the sales is complex, product and services need a deeper understanding and stakes are higher. I have selling IBM Cloud, which is certainly a complex deal. I have fumbled across many prospecting calls, because I have tend to identify the need from a prospect in the first step itself. It has never paid me off. I have sent hundreds of emails and so many calls I have fumbled. But ever since I have changed my strategy, I have become more confident in sending LinkedIn emails and calling up the customers.
Gather Information and build familiarity: Jeb highlights a right point that sales people tend to waste too much of time in ugly deals. They fill the pipelines with deals where there is no decision maker involved, no buying window is defined, budget is not clear. A prospect can fall in one of below phases :
- Qualified and in the buying window
- Qualified but not in the buying window
- Semi-qualified: You know there is potential but you don’t have enough information
- Potential buyers but have no information about them
- Record in the database is bogus.
This classification has made a huge difference in the way I need support from marketing and my prospecting strategy.
Build Familiarity :
Familiarity plays an important role in getting the prospect to engage.
Building familiarity is a long term activity and is required a strategic planning. That’s the reason savvy sales professionals creates a strategic prospecting campaign (SPC) that leverages all the possible touches to build familiarity.