This is actually something I’ve been working on for the past couple of weeks but when I was asked to present similar information to a new group of trainees for my company, I thought I’d finish it up and present it to any sales professionals interested in sales prospecting.
As soon as this post went live I got a lot of really great feed back.
— Susan P. Cooper (@SusanPCooper) May 2, 2013
— Thabani Msomi (@thabani_msomi) April 30, 2013
As I’ve mentioned before, finding new leads is an important activity for every sales person. And one that requires persistence to be successful at. In addition, using one of the many prospecting methods available to you will help you close more sales.
In the below SlideShare deck I present my T.R.E.A.T. concept to sales prospecting ideas. In a nutshell T.R.E.A.T. stands for…
Throughout my sales career I’ve honed my skills when it comes to prospecting. And I’ve found that using the TREAT method works well when you have the capacity and tenacity to be professionally persistent in prospecting.
So I hope you enjoy my first Sales Pro Blog SlideShare deck and be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below.
This Slideshare deck, although technically only taking a couple hours to complete, is based off of years of experience.
So as a Sales Pro I feel it’s my job to help others learn from my experience. If you’re here then you very well may be more of a read the blog post kind of person, and that’s ok. I’ve included below the basic speech I gave with this presentation. Enjoy.
Because I’m sure you’ve already checked out my About page I’ll go ahead and skip the intro and jump right into the meat of the presentation.
What Is Prospecting
According Webster’s dictionary, prospecting is “to look out for”, “search for” or in the sales of a sales person, “the responsibilities of salespeople to prospect for customers”
And believe it or not, prospecting is not something to fear, easier than you think, and your responsibility as a sales person.
It’s important for filling your pipeline, often is rewarded with higher commissions (for new logos vs upselling), is often a long term company initiative, and often a required part of a a sales person’s activity.
How To Prospect?
When I first started as a sales person I had no idea what I was doing when I was prospecting. I simply looked online for clients and called them up. Without any idea of how to lead them to accepting a meeting with me.
But after various forms of sales training, and a lot of trial and error, I was able to break down my prospecting methodology into 5 basic steps. Target, Research, Engage, Acquire, and Timing.
Or TREAT for short.
Basic Principle: Use all the tools available to you to find new prospects to bring into your client portfolio. Your goal is to find and target new companies to go after.
You can passively search online in business and trade journals, trade association websites, and of course using search engines like Google and LinkedIn.
Or you can more actively target prospects by asking for referrals, networking with like minded professionals, and being the CEO of your territory through territory awareness.
Basic Principle: Use all the tools available to you to find valuable information to help you engage, connect, and bond with prospects.
Now that you’ve found your target prospect companies and contacts, you now need to do research not only to qualify them, but also to make sure that you can appropriate help them.
It’s important to understand them and their business when prospecting.
The main tool I use? Google.
Whenever I find a viable prospecting target I Google them which often leads me to a few different kinds of results.
Company websites are usually the first that will come up. Sometimes you even get lucky and find entire executive management bios with contact information and recent news.
Or Google may take you to the companies LinkedIn page where you’ll get some basic information about the company, but more importantly employees that work there. LinkedIn can be a treasure trove of information about company officers.
Google may also return news articles about said target prospect which can give you a foot in the door when reaching out. For example, I recently found a news story about a prospect who was being honored for a 2013 Women In Business Award.
So when I emailed her I referenced the article. Not only did she take my call, she directed me to the appropriate person within her company to speak with.
Lastly Google may point you in the direction of social media avenues like blogs, social media profiles, marketing material, etc.
These often have industry intelligence and contact information that you can use when engaging.
Basic Principle: Use all the tools available to you to contact and entice prospects to meet with you.
Now the fun begins.
There are 4 common ways that I engage prospects. Email, calling, handwritten letters, and gifts.
Although it’s not required it is recommended that you mix things up a bit when prospecting. Don’t use only calling or only gifts as prospecting tools. Change it up every once in a while.
Email, call, email, letter, call, gift, email, call, call, etc.
If you feel you’ve been contacting a prospect the same way over and over, and it’s not working, try something new.
I recommend email as your first form of contact because it is the least intrusive option. If they have no idea who you are, and your subject line isn’t too “salesy” they’ll likely open it up to read at least the first few lines.
Sales Pro Tip: Include a call to action and tell them when to expect your upcoming call.
And although our boss thinks cold calling is a fun and exciting experience for us, it can often be stressful, and is sometimes even feared by sales people.
Luckily there are ways to make cold calling easier.
When to call for example can have a dramatic effect on your outcome.
I prefer to call before 8:30am, during lunch time, and after 5pm. Why you ask? Because that is when gatekeepers are likely not at their desk.
I avoid calling on Monday because I am often busy answering emails and in the middle of weekly sales meetings. I assume my prospects have a similar Monday schedule.
I also like to reach out immediately after a noticeable event. Events such as the one mentioned above, being honored for an award, are a great way to get your foot in the door. Use them when prospecting.
And lastly, I try not to prospect near major holidays. Prospects are likely to be very busy preparing for time off, and they may already be gone on vacation.
Oh and don’t forget to SMILE!
They can hear it in your voice. Wouldn’t you rather talk to a happy person? So would they.
But don’t smile like someone who is email and text happy like most sales people.
Instead try something new like handwritten letters.
Unfortunately handwritten letters are a lost medium for communication but nothing says I care like a letter. Add this prospecting tool to your tool kit.
Gifts are also a great tool to use for prospecting. But not gifts like money and flat screen TVs.
I mean like cool gifts that your marketing department probably has for you. Tablet pens, t-shirts, flash drives, sky’s the limit.
Basic Principle: Use all the tools available to you to acquire something from every prospect interaction you have.
No matter what you never want to leave a conversation empty handed. Luckily there are a few different options for you to consider.
- You can get a next meeting on the books. This is usually the #1 choice during every conversation.
- You can get competitive info about who they are currently using, considering, or know of.
- You can get a referral to someone else who may be able to use your product or services
- You can get industry intelligence that will help with your other prospecting activities.
The point is to get something. Anything!
Basic Principle: Be professionally persistent in reaching out to prospects no matter where they are in their current buying cycle.
Would it surprise you to know that you don’t always call when they are ready to buy? Big surprise right…probably not.
Because of this you need to keep following up. Be persistent!
But I don’t mean follow up two or three times and then move on. I mean keep at it for 20 or 30 touches until after 2 years they are ready to buy, and you are now top of mind so they invite you in.
They key is to be persistent and never, ever give up.
Some Last Thoughts
Some last thoughts to consider when you are sales prospecting.
Be sure to optimize your online professional brand and know what will happen when a prospect Googles you.
Because that is very likely to be one of the first things they do when you first reach out to them. They want to know who this Johnny Bravo guy is that is emailing and calling.
And of course, update your LinkedIn profile.
I hope you enjoyed my first deck and this post. I’d very much appreciate it if you share the deck through SlideShare if you do like it.
~ Johnny Bravo