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!

A Sales Lead Management Process You Can Count On

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Want a more profitable business? (Dumb question. Of course you do.) Whether you’ve been around for a while or are just starting up, every smart business owner wants to increase their sales.

So what’s your lead tracking process?

Too often, a quality system for tracking leads falls through the cracks — and so do potential customers. It’s tempting to take each lead individually and patchwork your responses based on what’s worked in the past. But that’s not the most effective method.

Instead, you need a sales lead management process you can count on. And good sales lead tracking does one thing: follow the right leads systematically.

How to Qualify Your Leads

Before you meet with people, ask yourself, “Who is a real potential client?”

Make sure leads can afford what you sell. Not sure? Try this simple calculation.

Perceived cost x 1,000 = Minimum Business Revenue

Let’s say your product costs $12,000, but clients pay monthly. That means they perceive the costs to be $1,000. When you multiply $1,000 by 1,000, you’ll know you should be selling to businesses who bring in at least a million dollars. Otherwise, it’s too expensive for them.

Then find a niche so your leads can be more specific. A specific market lets you stand out as a specialist for your product, as it applies to certain clients.

Related: Looking For A Sales Lead Tracking App? Use This Checklist

Let’s say you sell scissors. Everyone needs them, and all businesses are prospects. But you’ll get a better result if you tailor your specialty. So become an expert at selling scissors to insurance companies. Now, when you sell, you can say, “I know everyone sells scissors, but I work with people just like you. Here’s my story…” Through the course of your story, you’ll show your understanding of how they use scissors in their industry and how you can help with that.

Selling isn’t just about what they literally want (i.e. the scissors). Selling is about the aggregate experience that you have in dealing with people just like them.

How to Handle Leads Systematically

Once you find leads that can afford your product and fit your niche, put them in your “mechanism” immediately. This mechanism, or system, for following up helps you know what action to take when. Here’s how it works.

1. Start the Funnel

Contact your leads at regular intervals. I start with an email and a phone call. To begin a “trust bond” — a connection point that starts building their trust — I’ll email them, “Hey! I got your name from here. I’m going to call you right now.” This isn’t about marketing or a grand introduction. It’s just a way to make the first contact.

Then I call them. If they don’t answer, I leave a message and immediately email them with the subject: Just left you a voicemail. More often than not, people will respond to the email but won’t call back, even if they’re interested.

After this first touch, I start my call funnel. I’ll call back the next day (and leave a message if I don’t reach them). Then I call back at these intervals:

  • 2 days later
  • 1 week later
  • 2 weeks later
  • 1 month later
  • every 60 days until they buy

You’ll need to tweak your timing depending on your industry. But the key is to be professionally persistent. You don’t want to be in their face. And you don’t want any of these touches to seem like triggered responses (even though they are). Instead, you want clients to feel like they’re your only lead. Make it seem like they’re the only client on your agenda.

2. Script the Process

In reality, all these responses are triggered. So establish a way to respond every single time. Whether you’re a one-man business or a 20-person team, you need the process scripted.

Related: 5 Things Your Sales Script Should (and Shouldn’t) Include

3. Tweak It

Then tweak it if it’s not working. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Once you have a place to start, you just need to edit.

Think about the sales lead management process like writing. The hardest part is getting the first draft on paper. It’s much easier to critique and edit. It’s the same with the sales process.

Get your process on paper — even if it’s wrong. Then, if you’re losing people, figure out where you’re losing them and fix it. That doesn’t mean you make changes with every piece of feedback, but you look at the big picture to see where a repeated breakdown happens. Then adjust.

If you want to know the best way to make changes, ask your clients. After they’re on board, just say, “Thank you for your business. I know you’re a new client, and I’m looking forward to working with you. By the way, how did you feel through the process?” They’ll tell you what they liked and didn’t. Then you’ll know firsthand where to improve in the future.

Solid sales lead management can make all the difference in your revenue growth. A CRM like CallProof will help keep you on track.