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6 Keys to Prospecting Success

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Written by John Doerr
President, RAIN Group

I recently conducted a webinar for a client on sales prospecting. Leading up to the webinar, I asked what questions the client had in regards to prospecting so I could tailor the content to their particular challenges. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when I only got one response. And that is not because they are masters of prospecting. Quite the contrary. It's because they do so little of it and were unsure of what questions to ask. Like most sellers, they were doing little prospecting at all.
Most sellers will tell you that creating conversations with prospects is critical to greater success in sales, but the dynamics of how to do it can be baffling. Unfortunately, when sellers seek to understand it better, they often find conflicting advice.

Download: 5 Sales Prospecting Myths Debunked

Part of the issue is that different situations rightly call for different approaches, so not all advice is right for every situation. If the path to prospecting success remains murky, it helps to start by breaking it down into its fundamental steps.

First off, let's take a page from direct marketing and its age-old formula referred to as AIDA. AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. Think of prospecting as the process of creating attention and interest—enough interest to win a conversation to explore the subject area more deeply.

The goal of prospecting is to create interest and convert that interest into a sales meeting.

Note that I didn't say that the goal of prospecting is to find someone currently looking to purchase a particular product or service. For most sellers, this is not what you want to do, because it doesn't work.

When prospecting you will find people who are already in the Desire Phase (someone interested in solving a particular problem or purchasing a known type of product or service) or the Action Phase (someone already in the process of searching for a solution to the problem), but if your approach is only to look for these people, then you're in for a number of rude awakenings:

  • Find someone who is already looking to buy, and they likely have a front-runner in mind. This front-runner is not you.
  • If you don't sell a commodity product or service, it's likely that the buyer isn't considering buying what you offer because she doesn't know much (if anything) about it, let alone how it works, and why it's worthwhile.
  • Find someone who has the desire to solve a problem and hasn’t yet started looking into how to do it, and you're in luck! But finding these people will be like finding the proverbial needle in the proverbial haystack.

If you are the one who can capture Attention and stimulate Interest and Desire, you will be the front-runner, you will shape the prospect's understanding of the importance of solving a particular problem, and you will be in the position to persuade them into Action.

6 Sales Prospecting Keys to Success

If you really want to be a successful prospector, here are the 6 keys:



Adhere to these 6 keys and you'll be well on your way to prospecting success. At the very least, you'll be leaps and bounds ahead of the sellers who will not prospect at all.

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RECOMMENDED READING >> 50 Powerful Sales Questions

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Topics: Sales Prospecting