I know you hate to prospect and you hate to make cold calls, so this is what we have to talk about today. Whether you like it or not. To help us, there is a great book by Mark Hunter called High-Profit Prospecting a trade paperback published by Amacom. This book is a first rate guide to making sure that you squeeze everything you can out of your prospecting. If you are in sales I am not going to ask you to read this book; I am not going to urge you to read this book. No I am going to order you to read this book. This is the best book on prospecting since well since I read Hunter’s buddy Jeb Blount’s book called Fanatical Prospecting. Yeah sorry but I order you to read that one as well.
Look, there are no two ways about it, prospecting is one of the key elements if not the keyelement of doing a great sales job. You have to find new customers and to do that you have to prospect. Now don’t bother to start listing the excuses and myths about prospecting and why you cannot do it and why it doesn’t work in today’s market, because I have heard them all as has Mark Hunter. Actually to save time he has listed them for us to kick off from his book and here they are, with a few of my own for good measure.
Myth 1: One and Done: A cold call is not leaving a voice mail. You have to keep at it until you actually talk to someone. And by the way a ton of e-mails won’t do it either, they are useful to warm up an upcoming cold call but they are not a real cold call. You have to actually talk to someone to start the sales process.
Myth 2: I’ll prospect when I’m done taking care of my customers: I you believe this you will never call on new customers. No, let the shop take care of your customers and you go find some new ones.
Myth 3: It’s impossible to have dedicated time to prospect: Yeah right. Make the time to prospect, it is after all the most important thing you’ll do all day.
Myth 4: We’ve made it this long without prospecting: As Mark Hunter says in his book, “This myth will sink your company.” This myth has already sunk many other companies in the past. Look you need new customers even if your company is doing a great job and you have many long term customers…stuff happens, companies are bought, companies go out of business or decide to go in a different direction. If you are not always out there getting new customers, you will run out of business and it will be sooner than you think.
Myth 5: If we provide great customer service to our existing customers, we won’t have to prospect: Of course customer service especially great customer service is essential to be successful but you still need to always be prospecting for new customers. Check myth 4 for the reason.
Myth 6: Only “born salespeople” can prospect: No, with a set of skills and a lot of heart, courage and hard work, not to mention patience anyone can be a successful prospector and that’s a fact.
Now I am going to add a few myths of my own.
Myth 7: Ah, my personal favorite, if we build a great product they will come: No, they will not, unless your product is a baseball field in an Iowa cornfield they will not come. You have to tell someone about your products and services for them to know enough to want to talk to you and as a sales person this is your number one responsibility.
Myth 8: No one wants to see me anymore: They are all too busy to see me so it’s much too hard to make appointments. Actually, this is more of an excuse than a myth. Yes, it is true that it is much harder to see people than it has ever been but that’s just too bad. Your job as a sales person is to find a way to make it happen. Look if it’s hard for you to see a buyer it is as hard for your competitor as well so you’re on a level playing field. You have to figure out how to see people and how to get your point across on a phone call or even through the voice mail you leave to intrigue the potential customer enough to make her want to see you.
I think by now you’re getting the point. We as sales people have to prospect, we have to get out there and get in front of new customers. We have to get more involved in lead generation, prospecting, cold calling, first sales calls and getting that first quote and winning that first order. This is want we do. For the next couple of week, I am going to dedicate this column working with you on successful prospecting techniques and I am going to use Mark Hunter’s excellent book as a guide so I’d recommend that you’d do something to help yourself and get out there and get a copy of your own and follow along because there is no way that in 900 words a week I am going to cover everything that is in this important book. Next time we’ll talk about successful factors in lead generation you are not going to want to miss it. Meanwhile stop coming up with your own set of myths of why prospecting doesn’t work and get to work on some prospecting…try it you’ll like it. It’s only common sense.