Prospecting—though every salesperson hates to admit it—is the necessary evil in any business. You have to prospect to get leads in your funnel to nurture them through the process. But how you do it matters. That’s what Steve Hall—the Managing Director of Executive Sales Coaching Australia—emphasizes in this episode of Sales Reinvented. Don’t miss it!
Prospecting and lead generation: They’re just labels, according to Steve. Prospecting is identifying potential customers who may have a need that you can supply and can afford to pay for it. Lead generation is looking for people in the middle of the buying process looking to buy.
In Steve’s opinion, prospecting is more important. You want to prospect for choice. If you have a full pipeline ready to buy, you won’t get desperate. You won’t try to close deals that aren’t ready or close those that don’t fit. The fuller your pipeline is, the less desperate you are.
Is there an ideal prospecting process? Steve’s answer? It depends. It depends on what you sell, who you sell it to, and what the deals are worth. It also depends on how big your team is. If you’re an individual, you have to do everything yourself. If you have a huge marketing team it’s different. Everyone has different capabilities.
The most important thing is to understand who your ideal customer is and identify companies that fit that. Assuming that a new customer’s lifetime value is upward of $250,000, they’re worth putting effort into. So you need to do research (either you or your minions). Then you reach out to them.
What do you do if someone is an ideal customer but they aren’t ready to buy yet? Do you come back in a year? Do you get them in a nurturing program? Who builds the relationship?
Then you have the actual sales process. Steve has one client that has multiple people involved in the sales process:
What attributes does a salesperson need to be successful with prospecting? What skills should they develop? Listen to hear Steve’s thoughts!
Steve shared quite a few dos and don’ts for salespeople to keep in mind:
Don’t say “Hello, how are you?” Every single person does that. It says “I don’t really care how you are I just want to sell stuff to you.”
Steve was working with a company trying to invest in aged care facilities. They wanted to talk to the CEO of the company they wanted to work with. The problem was that he couldn’t find a phone number for these people anywhere. Every single number for the company went to a call center!
Eventually, he went to their website and looked at their press releases. The head of corporate communications had their mobile number on the press release. So Steve called him and asked him to forward a message to the CEO’s executive assistant.
She got back to him and said “The CEO is away—do you want to speak to the CFO?” Of course, they accepted, and that’s how he connected his client to this company. The moral of the story is that not everyone wants to be communicated with. But if you desperately want to connect—try the PR people.
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