Sales Prospecting Isn't an Event. It's a Campaign.
Instead of following the common haphazard approach to landing customers, think of every outreach effort as part of a larger initiative.
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Bill is responsible for sales at his company and considers himself a tenacious worker. Whenever he discovers a new prospect, he will attempt to contact that person by phone, through email and even with an office visit if possible. After a number of failed attempts, however, Bill is likely to toss the person's contact information into the sea of dead prospects.
Does this sound familiar at all to you? This is the typical approach to prospecting. Besides being disorganized and tedious, the process yields less than stellar results because prospects are prevented from becoming familiar with the salesperson's organization.
Instead of following the common haphazard approach to prospecting, think of every outreach effort as part of a larger campaign to engage prospects.
Meet Laura. Before implementing the campaign approach, she used a strategy similar to Bill's, usually attempting to reach prospects seven or so times before giving up. Now she uses a campaign approach to reach prospects. Here is what her new process looks like:
Identify: Once she identifies a prospect, she adds him or her to her customer relationship management system along with any relevant information she can find.
Outreach 1: She attempts to call the prospect. In the likely event that she doesn't reach the prospect, she leaves a message saying that she is going to send a letter with best-practice case studies highlighting how she could add value to the person'sorganization. She reiterates this information in an email.
Letter 1: She sends a letter containing the best practice case studies.
Follow-up: She now attempts to contact the prospect at different times of the day over the course of a week or two without leaving a voice mail.
Announcing a package: She leaves a voicemail and email explaining that the prospect will be receiving a package with some ideas for a new program.
Package sent: She sends a big package with more high-value ideas to help the prospect.
Then follow-up on the package. Send Letter 2. Followup on that letter. And so on.
She uses this same campaign for each new prospect. Yes, it is more labor intensive than the haphazard approach, but she slowly builds a connection with the prospect even if she can't reach him by phone. Of course, if she does connect with the prospect, she simply references the last letter or package sent and then launches into her call script.
Here are a few key techniques from Laura's process that can translate into a successful prospecting campaign for any salesperson:
1. Create multiple steps.
Plan out ahead of time what your campaign will look like and what you'll send to the prospect at each step. Make sure that everything you send is of actual value to the prospect. Brochures don't cut it. Instead, create three to five different pieces to send the prospect, which can each serve as a legitimate reason to connect. Even in the event that you don't hear back after Step 2, you are still slowly making yourself known to the prospect, which makes him or her that much more likely to take your call the next time.
2. Call and email in between steps.
Since you've sent something of value to the prospect, you now want to follow up to learn what matters most to her. The goal of any campaign is to simply get through to the prospect. By having a consistent process, you simply follow directions and let the campaign do the real work. As soon as you reach the prospect, you start the selling process.
3. Warm up the person through personal touches.
People still open mail, especially when it's personal, so don't just send boilerplate letters and packages to prospects. Make them personal with handwritten notes and add individualized gestures. One step could be to send a letter with an article that may be highly relevant to the prospect based on his current business situation. The key is to show that you've done your homework and view the prospect as more than just a number.
Remember, developing a prospecting campaign can be a bit of work up front. But once you have it laid out, all you have to do is follow the steps. By taking every prospect through this same campaign, you slowly build connections in a world where it's increasingly difficult to get through the barrage of voice mail, gatekeepers and other barriers.
So give it a shot. Lay out your campaign and take your next series of prospects through the steps. The more prospects you have in a particular campaign, the easier it is to implement a systematic approach.