I was a journalism major, so I can confidently say there is a “W” in prospecting—and I won’t even retract it tomorrow!
It’s the “W” that no one likes to do or hear about: Work. But if you have a systematic work process, it will produce new clients and maybe even seem a little less like work. Prospecting work finds the right person to talk to and nurtures them into a conversation.
Sounds easy, right? And in my head, it all works perfectly. But you and I know that in real life it isn’t that easy, nor are you that successful. I have found, however, that if you break it down into definable, manageable steps, you can do the work of prospecting and hardly even notice that you’re doing it.
Step 1: Navigate
Find the right person to talk to. That’s all. Don’t talk, don’t sell, don’t charm.
“I have a question about your company’s asset management software. Who should I speak with?”
Step 2: Inform
It’s a short word, so be brief about it. Ask your question—and keep it to a single question. Again, don’t talk, don’t sell, don’t charm. You don’t even know if they have a need for you yet, or a budget, or the slightest interest. Yes—I know—everyone can use your services or buy your product. But will they? No. Don’t assume that they will with your first question.
Step 3: Nurture
Not everyone is ready to buy from you today—unfortunately. Until they are, share information with them on a periodic basis: pertinent facts about your company, the marketplace, and economic trends that will help them become familiar with your brand, understand your authority in the marketplace, and see you as a trusted advisor. When they’re ready for your product or service, you’ll already know each other.
Step 4: Invite
After you’ve established that they are the right person to talk with and that they are interested in your offering, invite them to a deeper conversation—and schedule that conversation. Send a calendar invite. If someone says, “Yeah, call me anytime,” don’t waste your time calling them, because that means they aren’t really interested in making time for you. Your time is more valuable than that. I know that’s counterintuitive, but try it. The next time someone says “call me whenever,” attempt to set an appointed time. That way, they expect your call, and have time set aside to focus on your conversation.
When you have finished your prospecting Work, then you get to do the fun stuff—Sell!