This post is part of an 8-part series on the steps of the sales process. Click here to see the full series.
Prospecting – The Second Step of the Sales Process
Let’s start by defining prospecting as it relates to our sales process.
Prospecting is whatever you do to get into a sales conversation with a lead. Before you do the prospecting activity, the lead is just a name. Maybe there has been some generalized contact like through an advertisement, web site, conference, etc., but there has not been an agreement to meet and talk about doing business together. The act of engaging the lead and getting them to agree to talk to you about potentially buying something is what we mean by prospecting.
When I first mention prospecting to salespeople, they immediately think of cold calling. Cold calling is something most salespeople hate, although many do it and many do it with good results. Whatever you feel about cold calling doesn’t really matter, the point is that you need to prospect to get into meetings, and you simply need to find something that works.
Cold calling is one of many prospecting methods. Many who don’t like cold calling do what is called “warming up” a cold call. The idea here is that you will need to call your leads to ask for a meeting, but if you can engage them before the call, then the call itself is not as “cold.
- If you exhibit at an exhibition or trade show, you should call the qualified people who visited your stand after the event to set up a sales conversation. Since you already contacted them, or they already had contact with your firm, this call is not as cold as if the call was the first time they had ever heard of you.
- Or you might invite qualified leads to a seminar, and offer them a presentation of industry issues. Your follow up call after the seminar will be for the purpose of setting up a sales conversation, but it will be less cold than if they did not learn about your company and the issues you help to address at the seminar.
- Or maybe you had an advertisement or a social media campaign that included a call to action or registration. You can follow up on this as a way to get into a sales conversation.
When you do call the lead, you want to have a good reason for calling, and if you did something like the above suggestions, then the exhibition, seminar, advertisement or internet campaign all created that good reason for reaching out and “warmed up” the prospecting call in which you attempt to set up a sales conversation.
Whatever method you choose for prospecting, and however you choose to ensure success or minimize the “coldness” of the call, your efforts to get into sales conversation need to be proactive and consistent. Having a lot of leads and contacting them to set up sales conversation is how ALL professional sales efforts start. To get good at this and to do it often is to ensure a full sales pipeline.
Once you are in communication with a prospect, you want to move on to the next step in the sales process, Qualification, where you will work to ensure that the names in your pipeline are not just plentiful, but have the potential and the inclination to buy as well.
Please click on the following links for more information about prospecting, or this link for the full list of topics in this 8-part series on the sales process.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Hi, I’m David Masover. With nearly three decades of B2B sales experience, I work as a private practice Sales Force Development Consultant. I help company leaders understand the root causes of sales issues that keep revenue from growing as fast as it could, and to fix those problems through work with reps, managers, systems, processes, strategies, and tools. You can learn more about me and my work and/or get in touch with me here at my web site www.davidmasover.com/contact/ or on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/masover/