I admit it, if I had to think about sales prospecting, I probably wouldn’t do it. I can find any excuse not to prospect, kind of like I can find any excuse not to work out (like in this commercial).
The problem is if I don’t prospect consistently, I end up with no pipeline and then I have to resort to doing stupid things like giving discounts and begging for business which we all know is pathetic. If there is anything I hate more than prospecting it’s discounting (see my post, A Sure Fire Remedy For Discounting). The problem is that high quality prospecting takes time to do. You have to schedule time in your day, figure out what clients you’re going to target, research them, think through your approach, develop your messaging, write your email or call, and then make the call or send the email. That’s all usually for one ‘touch” (e-mail or call) and we all know it takes more than a few “touches” to reach an executive these days.
Stay Up to Speed
The key to consistent, effective, high quality prospecting is to set up your systems to have the information come to you so you can build it into your daily routine. The more you have to go out and find or get the info, the less likely it is to happen. The first step is to identify your target ‘A’ level prospects because not all prospects are created equal, and therefore, not all of them deserve the same amount of our time. After identifying our target list. we then need to track them and get information about them to come to us. The tools I use to do this are Gagein.com, Google Alerts, and a few others. With these tools, you not only flag the accounts you want to track, but you can set them up to track very specific events (product launches, litigations, M&As, etc.) and have them send you an email once a day with a summary of events. Since I live and die by my email, I’m now forced to look at 2-3 emails from these sources every day that highlight things that are going on with my target accounts.
Develop Consistent and Repeatable Messaging
Now that I have the information coming to me, I need to determine which events are most relevant, and my solution, so I can develop consistent and repeatable messaging (and not have to reinvent the wheel every time). I tend to choose 4-5 different events that I can make a connection, and develop messaging around that. Every time you see a certain event (eg. new office), you can pretty much say the same thing. From there, I develop email or phone templates for each event. Keep in mind, these are not templates or scripts that are meant to be blasted out to 1,000 people. These are templates to be used for efficiency purposes but still sent to individuals one at a time with slight customization.
Track Your Results
Once I have my events and my messaging, I now need to find a way to distribute and track them. The simplest way to do this with email (if you use Outlook) is to create different ‘signature files’ that you can choose and pre-populate your emails. That helps with the efficiency in writing the emails, but it doesn’t help with tracking to find out which ones are working and which ones aren’t. That’s why I use products like Toutapp and Yesware that allow you to develop templates, track who opens your emails, and run split testing to determine conversion ratios.
By identifying a target list of accounts, tracking them so information comes to you, developing messaging based on certain triggers that you can put into email and phone templates, and using tools to track the response rates, you now have an engine that produces high quality prospecting without having to try too hard. Good luck and happy selling!
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This post originally appeared on John Barrows’ Blog.