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Sales Prospecting Tips [SlideShare]

by Johnny Bravo · 29 comments

Sales Prospecting Ideas [SlideShare]Today I’d like to introduce my first SlideShare deck on The Sales Pro Blog.

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.

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…

  • Target
  • Research
  • Engage
  • Acquire
  • Timing

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.

Why Prospect?

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.

Target

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.

Research

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.

Engage

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.

Acquire

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!

Timing

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

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Debra Yearwood April 30, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Great points Johnny. So much of what works in sales is also what works in government relations and other communications activities. Essentially it comes down to doing your homework and being persistent.

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Johnny Bravo May 1, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Thanks Debra. I believe you, I’m sure they work very well in those kind activities.

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Kelly Wade May 1, 2013 at 10:27 am

Great acronym and what it stands for. I think the last ‘T’ for timing is an important aspect that many people overlook. Timing is key in everything, including sales ideas and marketing. You have to put out information at the right time or else no one will want to pay attention.

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Johnny Bravo May 1, 2013 at 10:36 pm

Thanks Kelly. Glad you like it. And you’re absolutely right. Timing is everything as the saying goes.

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Arleen May 2, 2013 at 6:41 am

I have to say being sales for as many years as I have I surprised when you said to call before 8:30 AM or after 5:30 PM. Timing is most important. Some of your best prospects are your past clients that most of us forget about. Just sending out a small promotional gift that has all your information on it to your customers will go a long way. After the initial call, the gift gives you the opportunity to call and ask did you receive the item. After that a thank you hand written card. Be persistent and it will pay off. Very good post

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Johnny Bravo May 8, 2013 at 6:09 pm

Thanks Arleen glad you enjoyed it. I get that a lot, about calling in off hours. And to be clear that applies to net new logo prospects, someone you aren’t doing business with already.

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Susan Bigan May 2, 2013 at 6:49 am

Great post! The acronym, TREAT, makes it so easy to remember. I wonder if you have to take these steps in that exact order. Sometimes I think research is the best place to start.

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Johnny Bravo May 8, 2013 at 6:11 pm

Susan, no you don’t. There are definitely times when research comes first…to find your targets. As I mention it’s important to mix it up as often as you can.

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Susan Cooper May 2, 2013 at 8:26 am

You have done an excellent job of putting your pint across. I love the acronym. It really fits what you are training and trying to covey. When it comes to sales and sales training any time you can assign a good acronym to the training and purpose you have a much great opportunity to have it stick in a sales persons memory. This is a great post and subject I will be sharing with friends. 🙂

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Johnny Bravo May 8, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Thanks Susan. I’m glad you like the TREAT concept.

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Jeri May 2, 2013 at 8:43 am

Great advice, which I will be thinking about how to apply to what I can do as an author. The one thing I would never try would be handwritten letters. My left-handed scrawl is sorta a nightmare…

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Johnny Bravo May 8, 2013 at 6:18 pm

haha what about your right hand Jeri? Trust me…my handwriting is not the best. But the more you do it, the better you get.

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Lorraine Reguly May 2, 2013 at 9:33 am

Johnny Bravo, I was directed here via the BHB group in LI and LOVED your presentation! It is awesome! I am still learning how to make presentations, and thought yours was super-cool, super-informative, and a great idea. What a TREAT for me it was clicking through it!

I would love to know how you made all of the slides… I am new to Slideshare and have only made one so far, but I would love to learn how to make more. I have only had my computer for 4 months and love learning how to do things. If you would like to share some of this info, you can email me. I would appreciate it! Thanks!

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Johnny Bravo May 8, 2013 at 6:21 pm

I’m glad you stopped by Lorriane. And that you liked the Slideshare deck.

(excerpt from an email between me and Lorriane)
I’d love to help you out. I want to admit that I didn’t just automatically know how to make presentations like that. It took a little time for me to figure it out to fit with my style. But I do follow a few resources that help’d me tremendously on how to craft them. Check out the Slideshare decks below and let me know what you think.

http://www.slideshare.net/jessedee/you-suck-at-powerpoint

http://www.slideshare.net/jessedee/how-to-be-awesome-on-slideshare-6968993

Also for the pictures I use http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/. (All you have to do is provide a photo credit which I do at the bottom left of each slide that uses one of their pictures).

My top suggestions:
– One idea per slide. Don’t overwhelm your viewer with information.
– Stick to 2-3 colors per deck. I get my color palettes from http://www.colourlovers.com/.
– Change up the text. So switch between size 11 and 28. Or use regular and bold in the same sentence.

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Kirsty Stuart May 2, 2013 at 11:18 am

This is great Johnny because things like this can basically be applied to everything we do in the business world, online etc. Congrats on your first SlideShare – looks great!

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Johnny Bravo May 8, 2013 at 6:23 pm

Thanks Kirsty. I plan to have many more Slideshare decks to check back again.

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Antoine Martiano May 2, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Hey Johnny. I really enjoyed your Slideshare. Even though it’s 40 pages long, still it didn’t bore me one bit because of the attractive photos you arranged. I especially like the “engage” part wherein you put a photo of an open ring box as if the man is proposing to his woman.

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Johnny Bravo May 8, 2013 at 6:30 pm

Antoine, I’m glad it didn’t bore you. I promise you, that was one of my main goals. Powerpoint/Slideshare presentations are often way way waaaayyyy too boring.

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Bryan McHeyzer May 3, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Hi Johnny,
This is my first time here … came over thanks to the comments you left at my blog.
Love the acronym TREAT and your slide show was excellent.
Awhile back the prospecting was a scary word … the way I was encouraged to prospect was cold calling.
However as I gained some experience and do not use cold calling anymore it is actually fun as you never know the response you will get from your new prospect.
Thanks for sharing your experience here.
Cheers
Bryan

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Johnny Bravo May 8, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Hi Bryan, thanks for stopping by. Glad you like the TREAT and Slideshare deck.

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Sherryl Perry May 4, 2013 at 1:31 pm

That’s a great slideshow presentation Johnny! Sales has always been one of my weaknesses yet it’s something that as a solopreneur, I need to get better at. Summarizing your method as TREAT resonates with me. Thanks for sharing!

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Johnny Bravo May 8, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Hi Sherryl, my pleasure. I’m glad you like it. I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy to take my years of experience and consolidate it into a single presentation. But it seems there was a moment when TREAT just made sense. Happy to share. See you around soon I hope.

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