How to Prospect Smarter and Bring in More Sales Leads

how-to-prospect-for-sales

The key to smart sales prospecting can be summed up in two easy steps.

1. Do it.

2. Follow up.

And get both down to a science.

But don’t worry — we won’t leave you to figure out the details on your own. With these three techniques for how to prospect smarter, you’ll see just how many people you need to reach to hit your goals and what to do once you’ve made contact.

1. Work Backwards

You’ve got dinner plans across town at 7:00 tonight — when should you leave your house? Well, you think about how long it’ll take to get there considering distance, traffic, and roadworks, right? You work backwards. The same is true in sales. If you want to know how to prospect for sales smarter, the answer is simple: work backwards.

Backing through your numbers to figure out how many people to see is the best place to start learning how to prospect. See, it’s all a numbers game. Anyone you contact enters your sales process. Here’s how it works.

Start with your sales goals. If you want to make x dollars, how much product will you need to sell? Then look at past averages — how many quotes and proposals does it take on average to close that many deals? Next, how many appointments does it take to give a quote? And finally, how many cold calls or pop-ins does it take to get that many appointments?

That’s how many people you need to contact during your sales term — so just divide it out to see how many people you should be contacting each day.

Then, as you talk to them, divide the prospects into three categories: active, latent, and not interested. Now you know how to follow up. My active buyers, I pursue. My latent buyers, I follow up with periodically. And my prospects who aren’t interested, I only contact annually.

2. Plan Your Pitch

Once you know how much to prospect, work on your pitch. You need to make contacts with new people every day. So the more you focus on your goal for the conversation and polish your approach, the better those cold calls will go.

The Goal: Gather Information

When you talk with a new prospect, you’re collecting information. You’re looking for info that gives insight into their needs, potential solutions, and their level of interest in solving those problems. You want anything that tells you what category they fall into. Every prospect falls into one of those three categories by the end of this first contact: active, latent, or not interested.

Script Next Steps

Why do you need to know what category they belong to? Because then you know potential outcomes for each type of prospect. Based on their interest, you can start the next action. If they respond in a way that makes them active, you’ll offer them an appointment. If you see that they’re latent, you’ll send them your contact information and keep in touch. And if they seem to be uninterested, you’ll call them next year. Whatever it is, you need to know the call-to-action based on their broad situation and follow your system after that.

Related: A Sales Lead Management Process You Can Count On

3. Approach Phone and Face-to-Face Prospecting Differently

Cold Call Prospecting

If you’re prospecting with cold calls, use a script. Write out what you’ll say to collect the information you need to gauge their interest. Then script out how you’ll respond if they’re active, latent, or uninterested. It’s more difficult to move people to the next step when you’re not staring them in the face. That makes a script invaluable!

Also, you get more rejections when you’re prospecting over the phone. There’s often a lot of volume and distraction, and people say no quickly. Yet, phone calls make it easier to get around the gatekeeper. So don’t get discouraged with rejection and keep calling new people.

Face-to-Face Prospecting

Face-to-face conversations make it much easier to gauge people. Plus, people tend to be less terse in person. On the other hand, it means you have to take the time to visit these businesses. And if they tell you no, you’ve wasted more time than you do on a phone call.

However, it’s productive if you plan to hit a lot of business in one area, especially if you can tie visits with existing sales-ready appointments. Planning to make two pop-in visits near every new appointment can be a great strategy.

The best tip for face-to-face prospecting is to do something with the information you get. Once they gather a name, most people forget about it or log it in their CRM. That’s when prospecting puts you at a disadvantage. It’s happened with us before — we were good at face-to-face prospecting, so we spent time doing it. But we didn’t make the most of the information we gathered, so we still wasted our time. Our competitors weren’t prospecting at all, but they had extra time for things that were more productive.

So, if you take the time for face-to-face prospecting, make sure you follow up. Put them in your process. Send them a card, email them, go back to visit, call them — whatever you need to do to make contact again. Don’t just log them in the CRM or put their details in your binder. Make your time count.

Download this Sales Call Report template to track your activities in face-to-face meetings. You can even customize it to your needs. Taking the time to log your visits and plan your follow-up will take your prospecting from good to great!

Sales Pitch Template: How to Create a Cold Calling Script

cold calling templates

Every journey requires a good map, whether you go old-school with the folded guide, or just download an app. Your sales journey is no exception. It starts with a cold call – and you don’t want to make it unguided.

A cold-calling script provides direction for both objections and recurring situations. It’s also a system that gives unity to the organization so your salespeople are on the same page. You don’t need a separate script for every person. Rather, each person starts with the same sales pitch templates and tweaks it to fit the prospect.

Most people get uncomfortable with objections, but a script provides a reference for how to reply. You can also create scripts for situational selling. If your competitor’s customers are dissatisfied, write a specific script that resonates with them. Use language that reminds them of the challenges and shows them how you’ll do better.

Tips for Writing Cold Call Scripts

Remember: the purpose of a cold call is NOT to make a sale. The goal is to schedule a meeting. Make a simple introduction as a means to build a long-term relationship, such as, “I’m new here at X and we work with companies like yours. I know you’re active in the community, and hopefully, we can meet one day.”

Think of cold calls like drip email campaigns. Don’t ask for anything initially. If you do, they may have a negative reaction and cut off communication. Instead, consider this phase one. Have a simple conversation and add value to your prospect aside from making a sale.  

Maybe you say, “Hi. I just wanted to introduce myself. I know you’re the key buyer at X. I’ve been here for a few months and you’re listed as a prospective customer for your organization. I’ll be sending you an email, just to give you some information. If you ever need anything, I would like to support you.”

Too many people are so eager to get the appointment, they skip building the relationship first. A cold call is just the first step. Don’t jump ahead.

What NOT to Say In Your Cold Calling Script

“I know you’re busy but…” is never a good way to start a conversation. If you have something valuable, it’s worth the interruption.

The full sales pitch doesn’t belong in a cold call either. Save your sales pitch template for the meeting. Remember: the purpose is to schedule a time to meet, not make the sale.

“When are you available?” gives your prospect an easy way out. Don’t ask for an appointment but rather tell them when you’d like to stop by. A good salesperson sells by territory and focuses on one location at a time. Don’t book one meeting in one part of town on a Monday and then book another meeting on the other side of town that same day. Instead, make your prospecting calls based on location and bring up a time you plan to stop by.

Creating Your Cold Calling Template

It only takes a few steps to build a cold calling script.

  1.  Introduce yourself.
  2.  Tell them you’ll stop by.
  3.  Base your script on time and location.

When you put it all together, it may sound something like this.

“Hi. I’m Robert. I work at X payroll services. We work with companies like yours so I wanted to introduce myself. If you ever need anything in the future, I’d like to support you. In fact, I’ll be on the east side of town Tuesday afternoon. I’d love to stop by and just hand you my card so you have a face to go with the name. Do you mind if I come by?”

You can also add, “I know you use an X vendor. I’d like to be your backup plan should that ever change.” I love using this language in a script because you never know when the provider is going to slip up and give you the chance to win over their clients.

If you’re in sales, you know you have to start somewhere. These cold calling tips get you on the road to meeting future clients with a positive, meaningful first conversation.

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