What’s Your Sales Prospecting Plan?

Having a structured process for prospecting can be helpful for keeping things on track and making sure that you are optimizing your time and making the greatest impact with your efforts.

Have a Plan

To make the most significant impact while using your time wisely, you should have a plan. Take the time to actually write out the plan.  Write out the details of what the process is, and what each step entails from researching the prospect, to scripting the calls and emails to the timing of the follow-ups.

Sales Diligence

Part of this effort includes doing your sales diligence and gathering information on your prospect before you contact them. Diligently researching your prospect will enable you to leverage the intelligence you gather to enhance your product or service offering.  If you've researched your own customer base and have found connections and relationships, then you can leverage a referral.  When you understand your prospect's unique pain points, you can script your calls and emails to address those points.

Referrals from your Customer Base

Ideally, you have a referral and you are making a warm call.  So that's your "in".  By understanding the connections and relationships to your current customer, you can leverage referrals.  Rather than "asking" your customer for introductions to prospects, you can be more proactive.  Armed with the results of your research, the conversation can revolve more around you simply asking your customer to use their name when you make your call to your prospect.  Now your customer has not had to do any work.  If you're worried about sounding creepy by knowing your customer's relationships and connections, you can work around that by minimizing the creep factor.

Scripting Calls

Carefully scripting your calls to maximize the potential of converting that prospect requires some research and some due diligence on your part.  And coming into the conversation with some knowledge of what exactly you're going to say is key.  Anticipating the objection, and having an answer ready will also help.  But doing this takes careful preparation.  Now we have to clarify what we mean by "scripting" a call.  This does not mean robotically reading from a prepared script.  In fact, you shouldn't be reading at all.  Scripting means that you have a plan.  You know how the call is going to go.  Based on your sales diligence, you know what you are going to open with.  You know what points you want to make that are in alignnment with their needs and what your product/service has to offer.  You've reasonably anticipated objections, and you have a strategy for overcoming those objections.  You are at the advantage in that you have had time to think about the call and what you are going to say.  The person on the other line, has not had this time to think about it.  You can more easily steer the call and leverage the intelligence that you have.  You may get shot down, you may not.  That's the nature of the sales call.  However, coming at it from the point of strength, meaning that you've done your research, you know who their connections are, you understand their business footprint and you know what you need to say to make the most impact.

The Follow Up

Have a set time of when you are going to follow up and what that follow up looks like.  If you are going to call, what does that call look like.  If you are following up with an email, create a basic email template and then customize it for each prospect based on your conversations.  Create a calendar for when these follow-ups are going to take place, and document everything accordingly.

Documentation

This can be a touchy subject for many sales reps.  The argument is that spending all time trying to document their activities, takes away from time that can be spent with prospects or customers.  However, documenting the status of each prospect and where they are in the sales funnel will assure that follow-ups are done in a timely manner and that nothing falls through the cracks.  Documentation is also important in pipeline reporting.  Rather than taking out blocks of time to document everything at once, documentation should really be taking place throughout the entire sales process.  If you are using a CRM, then you should be documenting your efforts in your CRM.  While doing the documentation part of your plan may seem time consuming, its essential to knowing where each prospect is in the process.  By carefully noting details, you will be able to remember where your conversation or communcation last left off, and you will be able to see the prospect journey from when you first made contact to when you closed.  This is important to know as you are continuously refining your process.

Whether you've got years of experience in sales, or even if you're just starting out, its always good to have a plan.  Your time is valuable, so be sure that you are making the biggest impact possible.

Warm Introductions, not cold calls

Knowing more about your customers and their business connections can help target warm prospects