Since the first salesperson roamed the earth in prehistoric times (yes, we know what she was selling, but that’s not the focus of this article!), prospecting has been defined as looking for people who might become customers, or simply, looking for customers.
There’s a slightly different definition, not nearly as well known, that opens up a whole new vista of opportunity: Looking for customer needs. Just one word is different, but it changes the entire meaning.
What this New Definition Does to You
The first thing that happens when you add that word is that you automatically—instantaneously! —start focusing on customer needs instead of the products and services you handle. Your empathy, expertise, and problem-solving capabilities take center stage, making you more interesting, more useful, and more likely to be viewed as a trusted and valued source.
What this New Definition Does to the Process
The next thing that happens is that you set yourself up for success because the prospect’s needs provide the focus, power, and direction for the rest of the sales process. So many sales efforts die on the vine because no problem had been found that was urgent and important enough for the prospect to invest to solve, or even to schedule another appointment to discuss. But with a real problem on the table, the prospect and the process are both energized.
What this New Definition Does to Your Prospect List
Here’s the most dramatic shift you’ll experience by adding that one word to your definition of prospecting. You’ll have not only more prospects, but better prospects. You know the old adage that no one is easier to sell than a current or recent customer. When you’re looking for needs to solve instead of people to sell something to, your current clients suddenly zoom to the top of your prospecting list—from having not even been on it! The savviest salespeople are always looking for needs, and their batting average is best when they’re doing that with existing clients, using their established relationships and their existing bank of knowledge.
Add that one word. Stop looking for customers and start looking for customer needs.