In Business Development one of the most common problems I encounter with BDM's and Sales Reps is that they don't love prospecting. For me, prospecting is one of my favourite parts of the sales cycle and Business Development.
Let me put it like this, Prospecting in Business Development, is like Fishing for Fish. What I mean is, that if you simply dropped your hook in the water and caught a fish every time, it would be called catching NOT fishing. Part of the enjoyment of fishing is the thrill of the catch after sometimes hours of waiting and anticipation. The other point to make is that if you don't put a hook in the water at all, you have no chance of catching a fish. Agree?
Now lets think back to prospecting. If every time we approached a new prospect they placed an order, it would be called order taking, NOT prospecting. Whilst it is most productive to win as many orders as you can with the fewest amount of prospecting calls and that is what we encourage, it is extremely rare for anyone to have a 100% success rate or ratio. So, depending on your experience and industry, acceptable ratios can be anywhere from 1 order for every 2 prospecting calls through to 1 order for every 100 prospecting calls. Again in comparison with fishing, winning an order is the same as catching the fish and once the order is won, you will be "thrilled" with the "catch". I think it is also safe to say that without prospecting in some way, you cannot win an order. Agree?
There is no doubting that to be successful in Business Development, you must first be successful in Prospecting. In my humble opinion to be successful in Prospecting, you must LOVE IT!
I can hear you all now, "How can you love prospecting?", Well keep reading below for some of my tips on how to love Prospecting.
Use Different Sources
You know a common misconception about prospecting is that prospecting is "Cold Calling". And whilst Cold Calling is definitely a prospecting method, it is not the only method, nor my favoured method. There are many methods for prospecting and I have listed some of my methods below. My suggestion is to work out what methods suit your style and personality and stick to those methods as long as they get you results. You should have at least 3 or 4 methods that get you results that you can use and swap or change between to give you some variety. When you use a method that works for you, you are more inclined to "Love It", as opposed to a method that gets little or no results.
Networking. Amongst your peers that you network with, you should always be asking and looking for opportunities.
Past and Current Clients. Asking clients that you have worked or are currently working with for referrals to other potential clients is a great way to generate new opportunities.
Old Contacts. Look through your old contacts and leads in your database, CDM, Diary, Note Book, Quote Register, etc and find old contacts that you didn't ever do business with and follow them up to see if there are any new opportunities.
Trade Shows & Exhibitions. Whether attending and exhibiting, there are plenty of people hanging around looking for opportunities to talk about business. Talk to everyone.
Door Knocking. Whether your are knocking the doors of homes or businesses, this method is alive and well and still as relevant today as it was fifty years ago. If you run out of "warm" contacts, move straight on to "cold" ones.
Phone Prospecting. The same as door knocking, but on the phone.
Email Prospecting. The same as door knocking and phone prospecting. Use email prospecting to follow up those people you couldn't speak to at the door or on the phone.
Email Marketing. Stay in touch with your clients and prospects via email often enough that they remember you and not to often that they unsubscribe. Be sure to make your emails interesting and relevant. Have a catchy subject line. A weekly email is a good rule of thumb. If you do it right, prospects will email you. But careful though, you cannot solely rely on this method.
Social Marketing. Much like Email Marketing, if you do it good, you will get results. You cannot solely rely on this method either. Make your content interesting and relevant.
Advertising. Can be costly depending on industry and media used. Again this is not a method to be used solely. This should complement other methods.
In a future blog I will expand on each of the above methods further. Stay tuned and be sure to subscribe to my blog.
Make Prospecting Fun
If we have to do something, why not have fun whilst we do it. When it comes to making prospecting fun the first thing we can do differently is change our mindset. If we are negative towards prospecting, you won't enjoy it will you? But if you think positive and think about all the reasons why prospecting is good for your business development, you will start to enjoy it.
Now let's try adding some fun techniques or activities into our prospecting and you might even start to "Love It".
Team prospecting can be some of the funniest and most memorable work days will have. I have been involved in many, for example:
Once we had a group of 6 Sales Reps, 2 Branch Managers and the General Manager. We sat around outside on a farm calling all of our past and present clients to see if we could do more business with them. We had a competition between everybody to see who could get the most orders in that day. As a group we had a BBQ Breakfast and then worked for a few hours, We then played some Football and Cricket. We then worked for another couple of hours. We then had lunch, then finally finished the day with another couple of hours calling. In that one day we prospected more than what we would have done in two whole weeks, yet it was one of the most memorable and enjoyable days I had working with that company.
As a young Real Estate Agent, as a team we used to phone prospect for two hours between 9am and 11am every morning looking for people who wanted to sell their home. We used to play a game where everybody would put their chairs in the middle of the office and you couldn't sit down until you found a potential seller and made an appointment with them. This was a good laugh around the office every morning, especially if you made an appointment early and others didn't!
There are many other ways to make prospecting fun either in or without a team, just use your imagination.
Weekly competition between team members who makes the most calls and the winner gets a prize
A weekly/monthly draw for all the non-opportunity calls to be put into a box and a random winner is drawn out and the sales rep gets a prize
Be Good At Prospecting
Wow, this one is just so obvious. If you are good at something, you generally love doing it! No one likes to do work that they are not good at do they?
To get good at prospecting is easier than you thin, It's just practice. Listen, watch and participate in skills training, then practice, practice, practice.
My favourite method to practice is role playing. Pick a member of the team you work in or if you work alone, pick a friend or family member. Get them to play the part of prospect and then you can start to play your part, the sales rep. Pretend to door knock or cold call them and start to use your techniques. If you can master this within your peers, you will master it with strangers.
Here is an example of how practice and training can lead to better prospecting results.
A. You are a Real Estate Agent and you make a "cold" call over the phone to the home owner and ask if they want to sell their house. They say "No", so you thank them and hang up moving to the next phone number.
B. You are a Real Estate Agent that has practiced some different prospecting scripts an techniques. You "cold" call the same prospect for example "A" and ask them if they want to sell their house. They still say "no". You go on to ask them and say; "Thats OK, but if you did decide to sell and move, where would you go?" This is a great question because it is asked theoretically. The prospect answers "Well if I did move it wouldn't be until 6 months time, until I retire, then I would go and live closer to my Grandchildren". So with a simple script change, the prospect goes from NOT selling their house, to selling it in 6 months time! It is an opportunity.
That is how you get good at prospecting, practice scripts and techniques that qualify and get the right answers. You may have picked it up, but the difference in the above examples shows the difference between asking a "closed" or "yes/no" question as opposed to an "open ended" question that requires the prospect to give an elaborate answer.
Another area to concentrate on to perfect prospecting is your systems and procedures you use to manage your prospecting time and the recording of your prospecting results including appointments and follow up calls. What a waste to make a prospecting call, find an opportunity and then never follow it up! I see it happen far to many times. Really!
There are many methods to use for time management to schedule your prospecting time. As simple as a diary or your outlook calendar. You can also use CRM's most are cloud based these days and they can not only manage your prospects, opportunities and follow ups, but also manage your time like a diary or calendar.
I hope these 3 tips that have proven successful for me and many others help you too. Remember I am only a click away if you need more help. God Luck with your Business Development and Prospecting. Remember, "Love It".
Stay tuned for my next BD Blog coming soon.
If you are interested in talking more about business development, contact Brad Kebblewhite.