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Prospecting 101: How to Improve Prospecting Success

About 50% of sales people won't prospect. That's the research. In our experience, the percentage of consultants who won't prospect is even higher.

While most people will tell you that creating conversations is important and must happen if you want to succeed in practice growth, the dynamics of how it works baffles many. Where should you start? What tactics will work for you? How do you reach out to prospects who don't know you?

To help to improve your prospecting success, follow these five steps.

5 Steps to Improve Prospecting Success

1. Refine Your Targets

The foundation that underpins prospecting success is the strength of your list and the precision of your targeting. Professionals and salespeople often call too low in the organization and try to start a groundswell by working their way up. Reach high to the decision makers. Make sure that your list is clean and ready to go before you start, or you'll find that your day is lost in fits and starts.

2. Provide Value in Every Touch

When you sell, no one wants to hear your capability pitch, your history, or your life story right off the bat. They're looking to find out how their lives can be enriched by working with you.

When you think about providing value, don't think only about the value you will eventually provide when the prospect buys from you. Think about the value they'll get just from speaking with you. Eventually you'll sell your company, your offering, and yourself. But first, sell the idea that the prospect's time will be well-spent if they elect to speak with you.

3. Make the Right Offer

Your ultimate offer might be a particular consulting methodology, a type of software, legal advice, operations plan, or marketing tactic. But the interim offers-the offers you make and they accept before they buy from you-must be crafted with the utmost care.

4. Don't Use Tricks

Plenty of business success awaits you with your high-integrity approach. There is no need to use tricks, bend the truth, or cut corners to generate an initial conversation. Anything that you wouldn't feel comfortable telling your children about when you tuck them in bed at night, leave out of your prospecting efforts.

5. Touch Prospects Multiple Times in a Variety of Ways

It takes more attempts than most people think to get through to top prospects. It can often take seven, eight, nine, or more touches to get through to someone. That number goes up and down-across different industries and when you reach out at different levels. What's always true, though, is that it takes more attempts to get through to your targets than you think.

Cold calling works well alone, but it works even better with mail (yes, we are talking snail mail here) and email touches. Use a variety of touches to reach out and warm up your prospects-and make sure each touch has value in and of itself (see #2).

Follow these five steps, and you'll be well on your way to prospecting success. At the very least, you'll be leaps and bounds ahead of the 50% of people who will not prospect at all.

Additional Reading
[Take the Survey] New Research: What’s Working in Sales Prospecting, What’s Not?

By: Mary Flaherty and Mike Schultz

If there's a black box in the world of sales, it's prospecting. What to do, how to do it, and what it means to be good at it. And with all the conflicting advice out there, it's especially difficult to figure out where to start and how to get better.

Cold Calling Techniques That Get Prospects to Take Notice

Earlier this year, we asked you to share your selling services challenges. You flooded us with your challenges and concerns, which included communicating the value of your services, client relationship management, cold calling, and qualifying leads. In this blog series we identify 12 of the major selling obstacles you are struggling with the most and offer advice and suggestions for overcoming them.

Cold Calling Works: You Just Do It Wrong

Brrrr... I've just been cold calling and boy could I use some hot chicken soup!

Just those two words together—cold calling—puts many people far away from warm and happy. Given that it's so much fun for so many people, and that I have heard a number of times recently that the last nail has been banged into the cold calling coffin, why is cold calling still even on our radar screens?
Because it works.