Demystifying Prospecting

by Adrian Miller

Cold-calling prospects can be frustrating. Learn how you can prepare yourself and increase your chances of success.

Prospecting for new business does not have to be a daunting experience. By following these simple "rules", success should be yours. But, no shortcuts. If you want to succeed, be honest with yourself, and follow these techniques closely.

And remember: "Victory belongs to the most persevering"
~ Napoleon Bonaparte
  • The voice mail message that you leave on a cold call must include a benefits statement. That means you must answer the age-old question that every prospect asks themselves when they hear a pitch..."what's in it for me!" If you do that, you'll increase your percentage of returned calls.
     
  • You must speak slow enough for the prospect to accurately record your name and telephone number. The best way to do this....write down the number yourself when reciting it. If you can record it, so can the prospect.
     
  • Yup...we all know the adage....features tell, benefits sell. Then how come so many of us still speak in terms of features and not benefits. The prospect doesn't care what your product or service does, they only care about what it does for them.
     
  • Not everyone responds to the same benefit. Make certain that you open your sales presentation with a "general" benefit that appeals to all, or most, prospects. Then, probe for your prospect's "hot button."


  • Don't expect prospects to listen to a monologue. After the opening benefits statement, "engage" the prospect with a question.
     
  • The best questions to ask are open-ended. Closed-ended probes get a "yes," "no" response, or maybe a number. Open-ended probes encourage description, feelings and dialogue.
     
  • Do not ask more than 2 questions in a row. If you do, you'll sound as if you are conducting an interrogation. Prioritize your probes carefully. You never know when the prospect is going to interrupt and stop you in your tracks.
     
  • Try to overcome objections before they are raised. Proactively address prospects' points of concern and resistance. Don't back off from objections. While they are not the most pleasant part of the dialogue, they provide you with the opportunity to re-sell.
     
  • The worst objection is the one that is unspoken.
     
  • A request for literature is not a dead end. Do not automatically assume the prospect is a deadbeat. Agree with the prospect that you will send them literature. Tell them that in order to make certain you send the information that is most relevant to their needs, you need to ask some questions. Make certain that the questions will allow you to re-sell and close again. Ask the prospect exactly what they are looking to see in the brochure / literature. Perhaps you can tell / explain it right then.
     
  • All prospects that request literature should get a return phone call. Probe and find the best time / day to callback. Send out literature within 24 hours. Better yet, ask if you can fax the literature.
     
  • You won't make a sale, or get an appointment, unless you ask for it. Closing rids the prospect of uncertainty. Closing is a call to action. You have to close more than once on each call. Be prepared.
  • Make prospecting a commitment that can't be broken. Commit to a specific number of hours per week. Schedule the time (no cheating!)

Remember, in life you miss 100% of the shots you never take (thank you, Wayne Gretzky). The best time to start…NOW!

 

Adrian Miller is President and Founder of Adrian Miller Sales Training, a sales consultancy and training company that she launched in 1989, and is the author of "The Blatant Truth: 50 Ways to Sales Success". Adrian can be reached at 516-767-9288 or amiller@adrianmiller.com. Her website, www.adrianmiller.com, includes podcasts and other informative information to help your sales soar!

 
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