Prospecting for new business is vital to the sustainability and growth of almost every business, especially in today’s economy. And, whether you’re selling a service, product, or idea, it’s important to balance new business development (or prospecting) initiatives with key account development and growth. Following are sales prospecting tips from A to Z to guide and encourage you as you work to secure that first appointment.
A- Account list management systems are necessary—they create a blueprint for sales reps to develop business and they help managers guide their reps and hold them accountable. If you don’t have one, create one.
B- Be aware of the current state of the economy, industry trends, or seasonal influences affecting your prospects.
C- Create a plan for prospecting and work it. Be consistent.
D- Don’t be discouraged by closed doors.
E- Every one of your prospects is also someone else’s. Find a way to stand out!
F- Find and identify the decision maker.
G- Get close to the gate keeper.
H- Hot leads are better prospects, so find ways to get more of them.
I- Influence others. Be personable and engaging—your personality can help you secure the first appointment!
J- Join local network groups that could open doors for you or give you more credibility within your industry/field.
K- Knowledge is power, so know as much as you can about your prospect’s company, industry, competition, and current environment.
L- LinkedIn is an incredible resource to learn more about the companies you’re calling on and the key decision makers within that company.
M- Most of your prospects will require several approaches to secure that first appointment, so create a plan to approach your ideal prospects at least 10 times (in different ways) before moving on.
N- No means "not yet," so don’t give up!
O- Opportunity is EVERYWHERE. Don’t miss it.
P- Positive energy is a must, and it’s attractive. Negative energy is, of course, the opposite!
Q- Qualify your prospects; make certain they fit your ideal customer profile.
R- Referrals are HOT prospects; don’t be afraid to ask for them. Get them from your clients, friends, family, neighbors, and even past co-workers.
S- Sincerely care about your prospect’s business. Determine their desired business results and make "solution" calls… not "sales" calls.
T- Timing is everything, and your timing might not be the same as your prospect’s. Make sure you’re top of mind when they’re ready to move forward.
U- Understand the decision maker’s role and responsibilities.
V- Valid business reason: Make sure you have one before you try to get that first appointment.
W- Work smarter, not harder. Create an efficient plan for prospecting. If it’s a good one, it will naturally become part of your routine. If not, it will consistently feel like you just don’t have enough time in each day!
X- X-out or cross prospects off your list as soon as you realize they don’t fit your ideal customer profile.
Y- Yesterday’s NO could be today’s YES!
Z- Zero in on the strongest prospects you currently have, and focus your attention on them. Don’t try to call on too many at one time. Remember that you must be prepared to reach out to each at least 10 times.
Editor's Note: This post was originally posted on November 8, 2011, and has been updated.