Prospecting is a process, not an individual act of heroism.
There’s no magic bullet that will produce new customers for you overnight. But if you persistently and consistently work at an integrated approach to prospecting, your work will pay off. Here’s your work flow:
- Start with a good list. Make sure you identify your prospect. If you don’t know who your prospects are, define your current customers by their industrial codes (SIC or NAICS), their annual revenue, number of employees, location, and title of the person you do business with. That’s your prospect universe.
- Find their email address. No one has answered a cold call since 2009. The automated attendant, voicemail, caller ID and Google all eliminate the need to answer the phone from a number you don’t know. No one answers the phone unless they know who is calling, and they actually want to talk to them. You must email.
- Don’t sell to them…yet. Yes, I said do not sell to them. Be gentle! These prospects have never met you before. Nurture them with carefully worded emails that help establish you as a trusted authority and subject expert in your marketplace, gently shaking your prospect’s electronic hand before you both agree to have a conversation. Your prospect gets to know you with kind regularity, and by the time he or she is in the right amount of pain to need you, your email is in his or her inbox with exactly the information he or she needs to know to get relief.
- Track electronic behavior. It sounds like you’re stalking them, but you’re not. Really. Monitoring electronic behavior – when they open an email, click on links you provide, visit your website – provides insight into your prospect’s interest level, and lets you know who you should reach out to individually. That way, it’s not a cold call anymore. It’s a warm touch. See? That’s not weird.
- Reply to responses. Prospects will respond to your emails, and it’s important that you respond when they do. Seems logical, but a vague response can get overlooked in the scheme of your day. Take time to answer a question, make the introduction, or suggest a time to talk.
- Link in. LinkedIn is the business gold standard for social media networking. Look up a warm prospect – someone who’s opened your email, visited your website, but not yet responded to an email – and send him/her a Linked In invitation. Be sure to change default invitation wording; it lets your prospect know that you’re a real person, with a real work history and a real job who’s interested in having a conversation. It’s the pump in electronic handshake.
- Call them. NOW you can pick up the phone! They’ve been to your website, read your emails, accepted your LinkedIn invitation, but they haven’t responded to your invitation to talk. Believe it or not, there are still people in this world who don’t want to communicate by email, but who will respond to a phone call! It also serves as another warm touch that let’s your prospect know that you’re serious about talking with him or her.
Here’s the hard part. You have to do these steps, or at least a combination of them every day. Yes. Read that again. Don’t be the salesperson who “cold calls” while doing laundry. It doesn’t work if you don’t work it.