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!

Why Your Salespeople Hate Using Your CRM – And How to Change Their Minds

Salespeople Hate Using CRM

CRMs started off on the wrong foot. When they first came out, they were isolated to a desktop and not user friendly. Back then, laptops, WiFi, and smartphones weren’t around to allow mobile access to data. So the outside salesperson was forced to go back to the office to enter information. And the CRM became a ball and chain.

Salespeople who’ve been in the business a while have witnessed the evolution of the CRM firsthand. Some now appreciate it, but many still hate it. Their bad experiences with CRMs leave them with little motivation to adopt a new one now. Maybe they got fired for not using it years ago. Maybe they think of it as a clunky, outdated tool. Now, they just roll their eyes every time it’s mentioned.

But the fact of the matter is, you need all your salespeople on board for a CRM to be effective. A CRM (no matter how current, user friendly, and efficient) is useless without good data. And the most vital data is contact information for prospects and clients. Who enters this info? The very salespeople that hate using it.

So if you’re ready to get a CRM that works, start by getting your salespeople on board.

Why Good Salespeople Hate CRMs

Good salespeople hate CRMs that get in their way. They want to go out and sell without having to pause their activity to enter cumbersome information. But with the right automation and set-up, a CRM like CallProof lets them simply check off information on their phone.

Imagine a big whiteboard with a list of all your customers. Each time you contact someone, you check them off. The next day, you look at your list and evaluate, “Who did I contact? What promises did I make? Who should I follow up with?” CallProof gives you this checklist digitally (via your mobile device or your desktop — whichever you prefer). Plus, we even remind you to make the check mark.

Related: Why Everything You Know About CRM Is 100% Wrong

Even the best salespeople need reminders. Selling is contacting and following up. No matter how smart someone is, it’s impossible to remember the details of 30-60 conversations per day with full clarity. Then it compounds. If you contact that many people, making promises to follow up with even half of them, you’re dealing with about 75 points of action to remember each week. But what if you forget? Each proposal that slips through the cracks or question that goes unanswered turns into an empty promise that cripples your credibility for future sales.

Enter a CRM that notifies you when it’s time for action.

Why Bad Salespeople Hate CRMs

Bad salespeople hate CRMs that show their real performance. They don’t want their managers to see evidence of the inactivity that leads to their poor performance.

But a good manager wants to know the truth. People who need to make a car payment and pay their mortgage create stories about deals they’re “trying to close”. But deals don’t close without interaction. Once managers see the correspondence (or lack thereof) between the customer and the sales rep, they’ll know the actual likelihood of the deals.

The Evolution of CRM

A CRM simply provides direction for where to spend energy and time. It keeps your list of prospects and clients organized so you know who to call first. With a clear client list, salespeople know where to start.

Back in the day, you had to enter all this information in a database on your own. Now, an app like CallProof automates your daily activities and allows you to “check” items off your list while simultaneously logging your activity. It keeps teams on track and holds them accountable. It even reminds you when to take action on the promises you’ve made.

So don’t let preconceptions of a cumbersome, stationary CRM keep your team from utilizing this tool. CRMs have evolved into mobile apps that make documentation simple. It’s time to get your team on board.

The Salesperson’s Guide to Using Texting for Sales Prospecting

salespersons guide to texting prospects

Did you know it took the US about seven years longer than Europe to catch onto texting? It gained momentum in Europe in 2001, and quickly became a popular alternative to calls.

But in the US, text messaging didn’t take off until 2008. With the growing popularity of the smartphone, namely the iPhone, texting skyrocketed.

Today, texting is the #1 used app on the smartphone worldwide. In fact, no one even thinks of it as an “app”. It’s not a bonus — it’s an essential.

But are salespeople taking full advantage of texting? Not even close.

In most sales scenarios, salespeople deal with the buyer’s discomfort. In any good sales process, the salesperson builds rapport, the buyer begins to like them, and they become friends. But maybe the price is too high, or the products don’t seem to fit their needs. Now the buyer feels uneasy because they don’t want to give their “friend” (the salesperson) bad news. For most people, telling someone you like that you don’t want to buy from them creates an uncomfortable conversation. So the prospect often avoids the conflict by avoiding the salesperson altogether.

In this scenario, salespeople end up in a cycle:

1. Build rapport with the customer.

2. Ask pre-qualifying questions.

3. Propose a solution via email or hand-delivered proposal.

4. Silence.

In the end, they’re left without a sale and without a reason why.

How Salespeople Can Use Text Messaging

The text message gives people a more comfortable way to communicate. Building a relationship with your clients via text opens a channel of communication where they can more quickly respond and more easily deliver objections.

The secret? Text from the beginning. Here’s how to build this communication channel from the start.

Begin the text conversation with an appointment reminder. Confirm the appointment and include the address so there’s no question where you’ll be at what time.

After your first meeting, text a follow-up message. Summarize the meeting and reaffirm any promises you made during your conversation.

Start the text relationship before you get into the groove of emailing. If you wait to text until you need a response to a proposal, that’s uncomfortable. They’re not used to you texting — it’s a “stranger” text. But if the relationship exists prior, texting can be your secret weapon.

Related: 3 Ways to Integrate Text Messaging Into Your Customer Service

The purpose of the texting relationship is to better move sales through the sales funnel. You’ve built the rapport, asked the sales questions, developed and proposed a solution, but you haven’t closed the sale. In many scenarios, this is where the sale falls flat. What comes between the proposal and the close? Negotiation.

If the customer isn’t talking to you, it’s likely an issue of product, price, or prior relationship. Texting makes it easier for them to communicate these objections. So ask for feedback via text. Be direct and be brief.

Your message may say, Mr. Jones, it was great meeting with you last week. I sent you the proposal on Friday, and I would love to get some feedback. How can we move forward?

Now you’ve opened the door for him to communicate his objections and to start negotiation if he’s still interested.

Short and sweet texts can be your golden goose for moving sales through the funnel. But they won’t work if you don’t play by the rules.

The Golden Rules of Texting

1. Save Emojis for Friends

Anyone talking to the opposite sex faces a challenge in texting. Save emojis (and selfies) for your friends. Texts can appear more friendly than you mean, so play it safe and steer clear of the pics.

2. Keep It Strictly Business

Don’t veer off topic or add flirtatious comments. If you receive a message that’s inappropriate, it’s best not to respond.

3. Keep It Short and Sweet

As you message your busy prospects, focus on the facts. Don’t use text messages as an opportunity to build rapport. You’re searching for facts, so get to the point. Texts don’t need the introductions you’d include in an email.

4. Be Aware of WHEN You Text

Consider the person you’re texting and their normal business hours. It’s best to message them after they’re up, but before they get into their work day. So for people with typical hours, text between 7 and 9 a.m. For someone with night hours (like a restaurant manager), texting around 3 p.m. may be better.

Regardless, avoid early-morning or late-night texts. Most people don’t turn off their notifications, so respect their time.

5. Avoid Abbreviations

You may know all the trending abbreviations, but your prospect may not. So don’t use them. People shouldn’t have to decipher your message, so avoid abbreviations altogether. Steer clear of even the most common acronyms (such as LOL or TTYL) to keep your message as clear as possible.

6. Add Product Pictures

Depending on your product, a picture may communicate better than words. If you’re selling cars or a hot, new product, send a picture. A glimpse of your product will be much more enticing than any description you’ll write.

7. Respond in a Timely Manner

95% of people read their texts within five minutes of receiving them. The average response time is just 90 seconds. So when you get a text, don’t over-think it. Respond quickly.

Ways to Use Texting With Text Templates

1. Follow-Ups

Whether you’re following up with a new potential client or a prospect that’s been in the funnel a while, text messaging can be a great way to stay on their radar. Use one of these templates to touch base:

First Follow-Up

“Hi John! This is Prat with Absolute Wireless. We talked about looking into Sprint for the best possible deals for your cell phone service. Please let us know your availability, and we will reach out to schedule an appointment to get you saving sooner!”

“Hi John! This is Prat with Absolute Wireless for Sprint. I’d like to work with you like we discussed earlier for the best possible cell phone plan to fit your needs. Please let us know your availability, and we will reach out to schedule an appointment to get you saving, sooner!”

Second Follow-Up

“Hello again! This is Prat with Absolute Wireless for Sprint. I am touching base regarding an appointment to help you switch over to save more. I’d be happy to send you home with a phone accessory without any obligation just for stopping by our store to explore your options. Thanks!”

“Hello again! I am touching base regarding your appointment with Absolute Wireless for Sprint to save you more on your service bill for your cell phone. Could I give you a quick call this week to follow up on your options?”

2. Automate Monthly Follow-Ups

To make following up even easier, use an app (or your phone’s built-in feature) to automate texts. So, if you’re thinking about work late at night or prepping when it’s not appropriate to text, write a batch of texts to send later. You can even schedule your messages months in advance.

Related: Follow-Up Emails: When Should You Stop Pursuing a Prospective Client?

3. Ask for Referrals

Texts offer a great way to ask for an introduction while your phone number is easy to access. LinkedIn messages often go unnoticed. So use the network to find connections, then send a text. When you see a connection between a client and prospect on LinkedIn, ask for the referral via text message. Then they’ll see your number and hopefully forward it to their contact.

“Hi John! I saw that you work with Sarah from Sprint on LinkedIn. Would you be willing to introduce me? I’d love to offer her the same great service we provide for you. Thanks!”

4. Send Happy Birthday Wishes

Use your social networks to find clients’ and prospects’ birthdays. Then send a message on their big day. So you don’t forget, set these up to send automatically. You can even offer an incentive as a birthday gift:

“Happy birthday from Team Absolute Wireless and Sprint! Best wishes on your special day. Respond to this text within 7 days to learn more about birthday incentives for our customers.”

5. Confirming Appointments

Like we mentioned earlier, text messages eliminate the questions of where and when before an appointment. Sending the address and the time assures the customer you’re ready to meet them.

“Hi John! This is Prat with Absolute Wireless and Sprint. It was great speaking with you recently. I am confirming our appointment on Tuesday at 2 p.m. Thanks!”

6. Recapping Meetings

Let the client know you were paying attention during your meeting. This shouldn’t be a long text, but it should summarize your discussion. If you made a promise, affirm it.

“Hi John. I am recapping our meeting from earlier today. Let me know when you have a moment to briefly chat.”

“Hi John! It was great meeting you this afternoon. I’ll talk to my design team this week to see the cost to add this to the proposal. Look forward to working with you.”

7. After Meeting People

Texting can be a great way to connect with someone new. If I meet someone I could do business with (but don’t have a card with me), I can ask for their number and text them right away with my contact info.

But even if we do exchange cards, it’s still a great idea to text after we meet. Business cards are easy to misplace, while messages are easy to find. I may not need a particular service when we meet, but then something happens weeks later. Now I’m in the market for your service. Rather than searching for the business card, I’ll just look through my messages to find your information.

Consider texting as your virtual handshake. You meet someone, shake their hand, exchange contact info, and send them a message like this:

“Hi John! It was great to meet you. Earlier this week, we talked about saving you money on your cell phone service with Absolute Wireless for Sprint. As a service rep, I’m able to work out the best deal for your plan. What time would you like to schedule a quick phone call to follow up and start saving?”

“It was great to meet you recently, John! We talked about looking into cell phone service with Sprint for savings on your monthly bill. As a service rep, I’m able to work out the best deal for you. What time this week can we briefly chat to explore your options?”

8. When They Haven’t Responded to Your Proposal

The most irreplaceable benefit of text messaging in sales is the ease of communication objections. So, when you haven’t heard back about a proposal after you’ve cultivated the relationship and messaged for the seven reasons above, reach out via text. Say something like:

“Hello again. I am checking on the status of the proposal I sent you earlier this week. Please let me know what you think. Thank you!”

Texting shouldn’t only be the most used app with friends, it should also be the most used app in sales. Take full advantage of this essential tool to communicate with your clients as effectively as possible.

The Average Salesperson Wastes 2 Hours a Day — Here’s Why

salesperson time management

We’ve all experienced decision fatigue — when we’ve made so many decisions we can’t make one more. But we’re exhausting ourselves on the wrong decisions, namely, figuring out who to call.

If we eliminate all those choices about who to call, we’ll be able to focus our thinking on more important tasks during the day. So how do you get that decision off your plate?

First, you need a central place to store your previous contacts. Most people don’t have an easy place to store their data. Some just try to remember it. Others use a notebook. But sometimes they forget to take thorough notes. And even when they don’t forget, they have to go through each page to decipher and sort information.

The choice of whom to call becomes clear when you can see a chronological list of whom you last contacted. Then you simply go in order. So what’s the best way to gather all that info?

Don’t Collect Data — Make the CRM Do It for You

Any worthwhile CRM collects data automatically. Don’t rely on people to enter it. Some people think they can remember it all, but they just can’t. Can you remember whom you met with three days ago? There’s little chance you’ll be able to recall the details. (And even if you do, why use your brainpower to remember something an app can remember for you? Channel that effort towards sales!)

Each company cares about two things: existing customers and prospects. And every person you contact is a potential customer. An automated system makes sure no prospect (or client) goes unnoticed.

After storing the contact info for each person you see, an app like CallProof sorts the data. With a click, you can see whom you need to contact. The app has done all the sorting and filing for you.

Moreover, you can set reminders about how frequently to call your customers. We all know that it’s harder to get a new client than an existing customer to buy. So make sure to contact existing customers as regularly as they buy from you.

Identify Hunters and Farmers

You can also maximize effectiveness by making sure your salespeople work to their strengths. On your team, you have hunters and farmers. Farmers build relationships and take care of existing customers. They handle accounts and keep customers happy.

Hunters find new customers and close deals. But then they move on. The key is identifying the different types of salespeople you have. When you find hunters, keep them hunting! Once they close a deal, hand off the account to someone who will cultivate the relationship. Then you keep your hunters free to sell.

There’s a real danger to your profitability if you force your hunters to be customer service reps. Strong hunters grow your business. So eliminate anything that slows them down. You don’t want them bogged down by paperwork or dealing with customer service issues. Instead, keep them selling as much as possible.

3 Questions to Ask Your Salespeople About CRMs

Is it time for you to change CRMs? Your CRM should make everyone’s job easier — documenting data automatically, keeping salespeople on task, and preventing missed opportunities. If you think your CRM is lacking, ask your team these questions.

Does our CRM dis-incentivize you?

If each client requires manual documentation, you may be crippling your top salespeople. That means the more sales they close, the more updates and entries they’ll need to enter each week. Instead, automatic data entry logs their contacts without slowing them down.

Do you know how many calls you made yesterday?

When you do something repeatedly, it’s easy to lose count. You may think you called 40 clients yesterday when you actually talked to 20. If it’s not recorded automatically, these numbers are hard to track.

Have you every forgotten to follow up?

Let’s say I have a prospect I cold-called, met for an appointment, but forgot to follow up and document. Now, that sale goes away. So how many calls will it take to make up for that missed sale? Automatic entries and follow-up reminders keep prospects from falling through the cracks because of human error.

The right CRM eliminates wasted time — whether it’s time you spent deciding whom to call or logging a contact. A CRM like CallProof simplifies everyone’s job while making your business more successful.

Salespeople: Here Are 3 Ways To Save An Hour Per Day

salespeople time management

If you were to analyze a typical salesperson’s day, what would you see? Most likely, you’d find them filling out paperwork repeatedly, making conference calls, meeting at specific times (in inconvenient locations), providing customer support for current clients, creating a list of prospects to call, and, let’s not forget, making sales.

Sure, there’s value in some of these activities, but as a salesperson, are you really spending your time in the best ways possible? What if you could get some of the wasted time back?

Too often, large chunks of the day are consumed with low-value tasks. The biggest obstacle to recovering this time is reversing the old habits to form new ones. These 3 routines can make you more effective in less time.

FreeEbook

1. Eliminate Social Media Notifications.

Time Saved: 1+ hours

Turn off social media notifications on your computer and mobile device during the workday. What do those notifications do? They suck you into a world of unproductiveness. Every time that chime sounds, your attention breaks and your current task derails. Make your job easier and stay logged out during work hours.

2. Digitize Sales Info.

Time Saved: 1+ hours

Imagine a world without paperwork. It almost sounds too good one true, but an app like CallProof makes it possible. Just use your phone to capture data and record it without filling out paperwork or sales reports.

Other traditionally hard-copy processes have been simplified as well. Proposal software options ease the burden of submitting proposals. Online document signature services eliminate the need to fax documents back and forth.

The time saved with electronic documentation and automatic data input is well worth the time you invest to learn the new programs.

3. Prospect Based on Location.

Time Saved: 1+ hours

Think of all the time you spend in the car getting from one appointment to the next. Why not book your appointments based on location rather than spreading your meetings across town?

Be very intentional with the meetings you set. Then, after each meeting, use CallProof to identify nearby prospects and clients. Taking the opportunity to stop by while you’re already close builds your rapport with the client and saves you time in the long run.

For the Sales Managers

If you’re in charge, you can make a few additional decisions that benefit everyone. Scrap the end of the day meeting to save outside salespeople the drive back to the office. Also, do whatever you can to keep your hunters in the field and delegate their customer service issues to someone else.

Finally, give salespeople a list of prospects rather than having them create their own. Data is too cheap to not acquire it for them. Your sales team will thank you… as will your sales numbers.

We all want more time, not so we can add more to our plates, but so we can do a better job with the work we already have. What will you do with your extra hour?

What’s Holding You Back From Getting More Referrals?

Getting More ReferralsI’ve got some groundbreaking news for you. If you don’t ask for referrals, you’ll never get any.

Have you ever seen the guys walking down the street with some unimaginably beautiful girl and sat there thinking “Wow. This guy is seriously punching above his weight…” Guess how that happened? He asked.

There’s really nothing to lose when asking for a referral. If you’re concerned it might damage the relationship, it’s likely you haven’t set the stage and built sufficient rapport and it’s this which has made it a problem in the first place. This means that asking for referrals is not the issue, but rather your technique is. Here are three solid strategies for getting more referrals by building the process into your sales strategy.

1. The 20 Names Technique

This one really is an oldie-but-a-goodie and has been earning insurance salespeople hundreds of thousands of dollars in referrals for many years now. Adjust the script as necessary for your industry and, to start the strategy, take out a blank piece of paper and write on it the numbers 1 to 20.

“Say, Mr. Prospect I’m glad you see the value in life insurance. It’s super important. You know, I build my business not by cold calling people but by asking my smart clients who they might know that I may also be able to help. I’ve got some paperwork to do quickly, so here’s bit of paper. Just fill in as many names as you like. [If you see them procrastinating] Oh, just pick some people from your cell phone book and, by the way if you do know anyone, there’s a referral fee in it for you for each one that signs up.”

2. The Sale is Secondary Technique

This is another classic strategy that works as kind of pre-emptive approach to asking for referrals. The strategy should be used before the sales pitch and then capitalized on after the pitch is complete. It also serves to alleviate some of the pressure that may be felt by the prospect if they’re concerned about the hard sell.

“You know Mr. Prospect getting the sale today is really a secondary thing for me. I built my business on referrals from people I meet with to get me put in touch with other people they think I may be able to help. Let me show you what I offer, why it’s valuable and, if it’s not for you, that’s no problem and you can let me know anyone that you think may be able to benefit.”

FreeEbook

3. The Vendor Referral Strategy

This is another awesome referral strategy that’s even caught me by surprise a number of times, working especially well in business to business sales. One of the key areas of resistance when it comes to referrals is that your prospects are worried about breaking trust with people by giving their contact details to a salesperson. If you sense reluctance from your prospect, try something like the following:

“You know, I understand if you don’t want to share contact information with some of your friends or customers, but what about some of the other companies you do business with? As you’re a paying customer of theirs, I’m sure they wouldn’t mind you referring them to me, especially as I know you’re happy with the job I’ve done in helping you with your own solution. If it helps, I can actually think of one or two of the vendors I do business with that I think you can help, too.”

When the time comes for you to call your new referral, open a conversation letting them know that you’ve just been referred to them by one of their biggest customers. This dissolves the whole ‘friend or foe’ potential opener and gets you off to a strong start.

The fact is, if you got on the phone right now and asked 20 of your customers for referrals in an affable way that was thought-out with a little planning, you’d book enough appointments to keep you busy for two weeks.