Distractions abound in the world of sales, and conflicting priorities pull us every which way as we try to steer ourselves toward our ultimate goal: closing more deals. The goal itself always starts with pipeline, and pipeline is built on prospecting, which is why a salesperson’s energies are best directed to making the most of their next (and existing) contacts, and not to mindless busy-work like updating the CRM (Spiro can help with that).
So how can a salesperson ensure they’re giving prospecting their utmost attention?
It starts with making time to prospect. This means carving out dedicated blocks of time devoted exclusively to outreach. It also means making the absolute most out of each contact, being mindful not to waste opportunities, and doing everything possible to make a deal happen.
Here are some tips to help you do just that — before picking up the phone or typing up an email to your next prospect, do these five things first:
Few people take the time to research their prospects before making calls. Research means more than a cursory glance at their LinkedIn profile. It means spending time to understand the person’s history, their role at their organization, and learning as much as is publicly available within a reasonable amount of time. While you don’t necessarily have to lead with your newfound knowledge, the more prepared you are, the more likely you’ll be able to generate interest.
2. Customize your positioning
Selling isn’t about turning your product into a firehose and pointing it at as many people as possible, it’s about coming up with custom-tailored messaging for a person’s (or company’s) needs. Before picking up the phone, make sure you understand how your product can improve your prospect’s life, what kind of message you’re planning to lead with, and where you fall on the spectrum of alternative solutions. If you’re not customizing your approach to every call, then you’re not only failing to understand the nuances of selling, but you’re probably letting lots of potential deals slip through the cracks.
3. Know your ask
It’s tempting to wing it on a call, letting the chips fall where they may based on how things unfold. This is a bad approach. Before every call, you should know exactly what you want the prospect to do. Do you want them to commit to a second meeting? Do you expect them to sign a contract at the end of the call? Is the next step to get every decision-maker together for a presentation? No matter what your “next step,” you should always have one, and then work toward its completion. A brilliant conversation without a completed ask isn’t worth much, while a grudging discussion that leads to the desired income is, in fact, a success.
4. Consider the if/thens
Similar to the above, you should approach each call understanding your ifs and thens. This is simply a way to prepare for all eventualities so you’re not caught flat-footed when things inevitably don’t go to plan. An if/then allows you to plan for the if scenarios with then responses. For example: if the prospect says they can’t make the final decision, then you’ll have to find out who does; if the prospect says a competitor is offering a cheaper option, then you can explain how your product is a better fit for their type of business, etc. Knowing your if/thens allows you to be fully prepared, and ensures you don’t get caught off guard.
5. Get yourself excited
In sales, it seems like enthusiasm is underrated. Before you pick up the phone to call, get yourself excited; it can actually make up for other drawbacks in your pitch. Do whatever you need to do to get yourself jazzed up, whether it’s jumping jacks, blasting some of your favorite music, or going into the conference room and shouting to get your energy up. It might sound silly (especially to those who don’t work in sales), but it’s critically important to be enthusiastic when having conversations with prospects. After all, if you’re not excited about what you’re selling, how can you possibly expect anyone else to be?