Most sales people spend at least a quarter of their selling time on sales prospecting, and the best sales people spend considerably more.
Sales prospecting and new business development are the core of sales. Most sales people spend at least a quarter of their selling time on sales prospecting, and the best sales people spend considerably more. Top sales people make prospecting a series of consistent processes that are self supporting in order to reach success, and these processes can be imitated and repeated so that other sales people can reach the top tier on their own.
It is easy to pre-qualify a prospect with CRM databases and other tools, but top sales people never stop qualifying when they are out sales prospecting. Sometimes, the fear of knowing that a prospect is not positioned to buy can keep sales people chasing unqualified prospects, diverting valuable time. Top sales people are not discouraged to find out that a prospect is not qualified, and know that it is almost always better to find out sooner rather than later so that time can be spent on leads who are ready to buy.
It is an old maxim that to be successful in sales prospecting a sales person must first build a rapport. However, building a rapport is more surface based than what really needs to happen: Building a relationship. A rapport is built on getting along with another person. A relationship is based on trust. A prospect will never sign a contract simply because he or she gets along with a sales person! Reach further and start building a relationship from the outset as top sales people do.
Before investing significant time with a prospect, top sales people always look for conditional commitments to do business. The willingness to make a conditional commitment indicates that a prospect is serious about making a deal if the benefits can be made clear, and also encourages a prospect to invest in the sales process. Look for conditional commitments with feelers such as:
An elevator pitch can help you earn a face to face meeting, but it can only take you so far. Top sales people deploy their pitches within the context of discussion – two way conversations with prospects. They spend time talking about a prospect’s wants and needs, listening to ensure understanding, sharing one or two sentence fragments from their pitch along the way. This builds trust and confidence for the prospect, while entirely avoiding the feelings of manipulation that can arise in prospects when direct selling tactics are used.
With certain processes, it does not take long to lose momentum, and this is certainly true in sales prospecting. Top sales people keep the momentum going by making time for sales prospecting on a daily basis. By doing this, hot leads are never permitted to cool and the sales funnel is always kept full.
All of the sales prospecting tactics that top sales people use can be deployed by those still navigating towards a solid sales prospecting process. Reaching a prospect early is the best way to make sure that the prospect’s business is awarded to you and not to the competition, and sales prospecting remains the only way to make sure that this happens. Adopt the sales prospecting habits of top sales people and you will start to see your numbers improve, too.
Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 11+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and two daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day, tropical vacations and cottaging.