My first sales job was prospecting… exclusively. All day, every day I looked for new clients. Maybe this sounds miserable to some of you, but it gave me an advantage in the long run. Where most people have a lot of different jobs competing for their time, prospecting sales was my only focus. I came away with some great insights that a lot of people never learn.
Even though some people avoid prospecting in sales, it’s vital to sales success. So whether you’re wondering how many (or few) hours you need to spend prospecting sales leads or just need the motivation to re-engage in this part of the process, these tips will get you started.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Sell
If you don’t ask people to buy, they won’t just start calling you out of nowhere. If you’re not out there prospecting leads, you won’t make sales. There has to be an invitation — you have to ask. So designate specific times in your schedule to find new clients and invite them to use your product.
Prospecting Is Sacred
Guard the time you schedule to find new leads. Understand the gravity of prospecting. Prospecting time is sacred. It’s one of those things you HAVE to do if you’re going to get the sales you want. Make it non-negotiable. Tell yourself, “Unless the building is on fire, I’ll be doing prospecting activities.” Make calls, meet people, do whatever you can to meet new potential clients.
How often? Well, that requires a little math.
Work Your Numbers Backwards
How much money do you want to make this year? Use that figure to determine how much time you need to spend prospecting. Work backwards through your numbers, starting with your sales goal, to figure out exactly how much prospecting you’ll need to do.
- How much do I need from sales each year?
- How many clients (of what size) will that take?
- How many proposals will it take to convert that many customers?
- How many quotes to get that number of proposals?
- How many contacts with decision-makers to make those appointments?
- How many dials should I make to speak with those decision makers?
Now, just divide that number by days/weeks/months to see exactly how much prospecting you need to do.
Work Your System
Just like you systematically figure out how much time to spend prospecting, you need to have a system for dealing with your leads. Sales is all about working systems. Once you get in touch with a decision-maker, you need to have a process for how you communicate with them after that call.
What Kind of Buyer Is Your Prospect?
Based on your conversation, determine your action steps. What will the sales process be for this specific buyer?
Categorize your prospects into three groups: Active, latent, and not interested.
Make sure you have a sales process for each group. Then you just have to follow the plan you’ve already scheduled.
Active Buyer: These are the people who are ready to buy. You’ll usually follow up with them within 60 days.
Latent Buyer: These are the “tire kickers” of the world. Nurture them until they’re ready to buy. Most of your “interested” prospects fall into this category. Close your call by telling them you’ll call next quarter. Really, call them every 60 days and email them once a month until they become active.
Not Interested: These aren’t likely buyers. Maybe the prospect says, “My brother-in-law handles this. I don’t want to make Sunday dinner weird.” Just call these prospects once a year.
Exactly How Many Hours You Should Prospect
So how much time should you spend prospecting? Just do the math. Now, you know how many dials you need to make in a month. How many can you make in one hour? If you can make ten calls per hour and you need 100 calls a month, you need to schedule 10 hours to prospect each month.
It’s all about activity. Don’t focus on results at the beginning and compulsively calculate your conversion rate. Work on getting in the habit. Once you have the activity levels, sales will follow.