Prospecting – Increase your success thru preparation

In many sales roles there is a lot of focus on volume of calls when prospecting.  However, without enough preparation, your time and effort can be wasted.  Investing time into preparation should also make you more comfortable with prospecting, particularly if it is not enjoyable.  What are some key components of preparation that can get you started?

Get in the right mindset and establish goals

Prospecting requires energy and a positive frame of mind.  In addition to doing what works for you with respect to rest, exercise and diet, establishing goals for yourself is critical. 

Keep your goals simple and achievable with some effort, for example:

  • Referrals
  • Meetings scheduled
  • Agreement to follow up calls
  • Attend events
  • Provide information that your prospect values  
  • Obtaining insight on potential customer

What are the best times to make calls?

There are two sides to this question.  When during the day are you the most energetic and when are you most likely to have success in reaching key customer contacts?  Figuring out the best times to contact customers can vary widely.  Doing some homework will help.  Get some input from multiple sources:

  • Others in your company that have contacted the same person
  • Sales representatives in companies you partner with, calling on the same people
  • Administrative Assistants in your customer – get to know them and they might help!

Prepare Questions to ask and responses

Keep this simple by writing them down in an easy to read format and keep them in front of you:

  • Questions to ask – open ended questions!  Number them if sequence is important.
  • Questions you will have to answer – have a few bullets for key parts of answers

Respect the customer’s time…

PLEASE be sure to ask the person you are calling “if this is a convenient time to talk or they would prefer another time” during the beginning of your call.  I credit Dale Carnegie training with locking that habit into my approach.  I guarantee your customer contacts will appreciate your respecting their time and will be more open to conversation during a scheduled call.

Some sample questions

Doing a little research on your customer will naturally generate some key questions.  The following are good examples that will get some conversation going.

  • Given your company has experienced over X% growth over the past year, I imagine you are proud to be part of the organization.  What goals are you focused on for the next 6 months?  Year?
  • What are the most significant challenges you are facing?
  • How would you describe your 2-3 most important initiatives for this year?

Going Forward

Getting comfortable and confident with a new approach takes practice.  If you are consistent with your preparation and practice you should see your rate of success increase.  Each time you are prospecting, take some time to reflect on what went well and what could be improved before you move on to the next part of your day.  Try to incorporate what you are learning into future prospecting efforts.

Please share this post if you think it can help others.  I welcome your comments and suggestions.