5 Keys to Better Prospecting

Like it or not, prospecting is the key to your sales success. You may have wonderful opportunities in your sales funnel today. You will either win or lose these opportunities and deplete your funnel. No matter how good you or your salespeople are, you will not be successful with a depleted sales funnel. Here are 5 keys to ensure you and your team have a replenished sales funnel and non-stop sales success:

1. Clear out the sales funnel! This is an often overlooked step, but, it is the critical first step. Salespeople will not experience the urgent need to prospect as long as they delude themselves. They delude themselves with the belief that they have lots of opportunities in their funnel.  They keep believing that if they close a small percentage of them, they’ll be fine. Be ruthless and get them to clear out their funnel! If prospects are not engaged in a next meeting, they are questionable. Get your salespeople to reach out to the contacts of questionable deals and ask them if they should stay or go. If they want a solution from you, they will respond. If they don’t respond, you have your answer. Once salespeople’s funnel is right-sized and reflects reality, they will see why they need to prospect.

2. Be clear about your target market! Contrary to popular belief, you are not trying to sell your products and services to as many people as possible. Rather, you are in the business of helping the people who need your help. To find a needle in a haystack, you need to know you are looking for a needle. Look at your best customers, and the attributes they have that make them attractive to you.  Look at how they articulate the problems they’ve asked you to help them solve. Use this information to focus your list-building efforts and your messaging.

3. Work with a process! The same way you have a sales funnel with stages, you should have a lead funnel with stages. For example, leads might go through a process such as:

a. Lead list

b. Attempted contact

c. Made contact

d. Booked meeting

e. Converted

f. Drip, drop or delay

When working with a lead management process, you and your team will remain organized. You’ll have very clear objectives for each contact made.

4. Be disciplined! Decide up front how many leads your team needs to be successful. To do this, use a required activity calculator. A required activity calculator looks at the key elements that drive your success. For example, it will examine your team’s average deal size, their sales cycle, their win rate and their quota. If you need a template for this, please reach out to me here. Once you’ve calculated this number, break it down to a weekly target of required first meetings per salesperson. You should be clear on how many contacts each rep needs to make to get one first meeting and how many first meetings to get to proposal submission and ultimately as sale. Schedule the appropriate amount of time each week for your team to prospect. Get them to treat this time as they would any other appointment.

5. Use a script! Most salespeople have an aversion to scripts. They believe that by using a script they will not sound believable. The opposite is true! By not using a script, they end up fumbling for words and feeling stressed about trying to get their words out right. A script is nothing more than a guide. The more fluent they become with a script, the more believable they become.  By having a script, they can tweak their words for greatest impact with their target audience. Remember – the only purpose of their initial contact with a prospect is to book a first meeting. Once in the first meeting, they can spend more time in a meaningful conversation. A script will enable them to hone their approach to optimize this outcome.

My advice began with clearing out the sales funnel. As difficult as that may be, when you follow this process it becomes fun for your team to clear out their funnel! They’ll realize that there are lots of people in their universe who are a good match for what they do.  There are people out there who have problems that they are hoping your team can help them solve. Your team’s sales confidence will grow as they prospect. It will grow as your team builds a robust mechanism for filling and re-filling their sales funnel.  They will drop time-wasters, tire kickers and cheapskates. They’ll make room for the wonderful opportunities awaiting them!

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