Every business needs to prospect for new clients and customers, even non salespeople often need to reignite past business relationships and form new ones, internally or externally. You don’t need to be the primary salesperson or business development manager to be required to prospect well. Any call you make to another person whose attention you need to grab and focus on what you have to offer or propose is technically a prospecting call.
Prospecting is the identification and pursuit of new opportunities. In sales, it is the pursuit of new business opportunities in either new or existing accounts.
In other business roles it can be the pursuit of opportunity with a colleague in another department, bringing a new idea to a team or your boss, approaching a prominent person to be a keynote speaker at an event and so on. The same applies on a personal front. The lists are endless if you think about it.
Whether it is making a phone call or sending an email, capturing someone else’s attention while they are in the midst of something else and getting them to agree to talk to you about what you propose is prospecting.
How many phone calls and emails to people do you make and send a day? How many of these phone calls and emails are seeking to capture the attention of someone else and call them to action? How many of these phone calls and emails fall flat and do not achieve their purpose?
Prospecting is not the most important business skill to master, but it’s the first thing that has to happen for the sales or opportunity process to begin. It’s the oxygen that fuels the fire of sales and new opportunities. The process is easy:
- Determine the opportunity – what opportunity do you want to offer to someone else?
- Identify your prospect – the person(s) who you want to present the opportunity to
- Create a Valid Business Reason – determine what is important to that person and craft a VBR that will position the opportunity as relevant to them
- Contact and qualify your prospect – call the person and present your VBR seeking their interest in discussing the opportunity in more detail
We can use prospecting skills and the process to contact anyone. Using prospecting etiquette can make a big difference to the effectiveness and outcomes of any call.
Think of all the people who called us and waffle on not getting to the point, umm’ing and ahh’ing because they didn’t know how to effectively position what they wanted to say. Think of all the misunderstandings between colleague and departments because people did not know how to position an opportunity effectively from their internal prospects perspective. That is why everybody lives by selling something. Whether you have a product, service, idea, or project initiative to offer to someone else and get their buy-in you are in sales.
Having a plan or system and choosing your state of mind and your attitude is critical to prospecting success. If you think prospecting is a vital business skill you would like to master then you might like to do our online Sales Essentials Prospecting module.
Remember everybody lives by selling something.
Sue Barrett is the founder and CEO of the innovative and forward thinking sales advisory and education firm, Barrett and the online sales education & resource platform www.salesessentials.com. Sue was the first in Australia to get Selling a university qualification and has written more than 600 blog posts and 21 e-bookson sales and with her team produces the ‘must read’ Annual 12 Sales Trends Report. Striving to help people and businesses sell better, Sue is a Sales Philosopher, Activist, Strategist, Speaker, Trainer and Adviser.