Prospecting is the secret to keeping your pipeline full and is essential to growing your sales. Prospecting refers to searching for and cultivating relationships with the right potential customers who are more likely to purchase your product and service. Prospecting is a skill and takes consistent action to get better results. There is a direct connection between activity and increased sales. Do you put off making those calls until tomorrow, then the next day, then next week? Now, come on, be honest, you know who you are. Even the best sales people are not always great at prospecting. Why? Because there is nothing fun about making phone calls to people you don’t know, interrupting their day and potentially getting rejected.

It is certainly easier to make contact with your warm connections and clients you already know and have a relationship with. I agree you should start there. However, in order to make your sales numbers, you may still need to make phone calls to people on your prospecting list. You know the drill, make 10 calls to schedule 4 meetings and close 1 deal (track your numbers to determine your closing rate). We know from the law of averages, it works. So why don’t you just keep making the calls?

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Is Prospecting a Slam Dunk?

I can answer that through a basketball analogy. I occasionally shoot hoops—yes, basketball for you non-sports enthusiasts. I actually have a basketball goal in my driveway. As a kid, I used to shoot hoops to relax and it was fun, so I recently got a backboard and figured it should still work. (We all have to find our own outlets, right?) I expected to start sinking shot after shot, but I missed at least 6-8 in a row (trying to find the basket, I think). I considered quitting. Instead, I kept throwing the ball at the basket, and soon enough, I started sinking 1, then 3, then 5 in a row. It felt great. So, I continued to play. It was a good workout and rewarding to see improvement in a short period of time.

Basketball and prospecting aren’t really all that different. Both can be frustrating if we don’t operate with the end in mind. Salespeople have a tendency to quit making the calls or make them inconsistently. I am a numbers person and always work from a plan so I know that if I just keep making the calls and gain some momentum, everything will fall into place. Without prospecting activity, there is no positive outcome. If you watch basketball during March Madness, you will notice there are a lot of shots thrown toward the backboard and they don’t all drop in the basket. You’ve got to take the shot if you want a chance to score.

5 Prospecting Tips to Improve your Results

  1. Schedule prospecting time into your calendar every week and commit to doing it.
  2. Be consistent—you actually get better with each call. As you increase your skills, you increase your results.
  3. Focus on the prospect’s challenges—remember it is about them NOT you. They don’t care who you are and what you do. Make sure you let them know what is in it for them. How will they improve as a result of meeting with you?
  4. Know who you are calling and what they care about —a phone call to a potential new referral source will be very different than a phone call to a prospective customer.
  5. Remember, your goal is to get the appointment—don’t try to sell them over the phone. It rarely works and you can talk yourself right out of a meeting.

Steady, consistent action will improve your prospecting skills and put more money in your pocket. Stop putting off those calls. The time for prospecting is today. Focus on the sales activities that will produce results in the next 90 days. It’s never too late to develop your game whether it is basketball or prospecting.

Shelly Pereira is a Sales Trainer and Coach with Verance Consulting.