Mastering the Art of Prospecting.
There’s only one important thing about selling you must master– prospecting for new business!
Nothing in business happens without sales. Yet, understanding the best way to develop business can be an elusive thing to many early-stage entrepreneurs who struggle with increasing their revenues with higher-paying clients.
There’s only one important thing about selling that you must learn to do correctly to make new sales– prospect for business!
How you prospect for business determines the quality of clients you’ll serve. If you’re not satisfied with your sales results, or the quality of your clientele, stop for a moment and think back to how they showed up.
How do your clients show-up? Do you have a steady stream of people who want to talk to you about how you can help them? Developing and mastering your prospecting skills are essential if you’re going to turn suspects to prospects, and prospects to early-stage buyers.
Allow me to share my definition of what prospecting is:
Connecting your value proposition to ever-higher value clients who represent your best opportunities to serve them in ways they highly value.
I like to think of prospecting as walking in an open field, and everywhere around me, as far as I can see, there are tiny little customer seedlings–so many of them! How do you know which of the many potential customers to focus your attention on? Which ones will grow to become your future clients or customers? To help answer those questions, here are some ideas to help make your prospecting activities more effective in your sales process:
Prospecting is not networking. Prospecting requires thoughtful analysis. Networking is improvisational and immediate. Prospecting requires equal measure of looking out into the marketplace assessing the need or demand, and introspection to look within yourself and determine, with clarity and confidence, what opportunities you are well positioned to pursue that will elevate your scene to ever-higher levels.
Prospecting requires discernment. It’s not a numbers game. Whatever business your in, you’re not going to be right for everybody. There must be a mutually perceived fit between you and your customer–where the best of you will serve the good of them in a manner they highly value. Believe me, this thins out the slush pile in a hurry. Once you’re able to define what a “good fit” is for you, and why that matters to them, you’re able to focus all your energy and available resources on nurturing only your most promising opportunities.
When you’re highly specialized, prospecting is easy. If you’re a specialized expert, known in the marketplace for solving specialized types of problems, you’ll only be prospecting for clients or customers who need that type of problem solved. It’s much easier to determine who your high value prospects are when you specialize. Chances are good they’ll be looking for you as well, and you’ll be a lot easier to find. If your business is all about rare tulip bulbs, you won’t be wasting time and money prospecting for customers who want to buy flowers. Specialists stick out, just like their prospects..
What defines a prospect? A prospect is a known early-stage buyer seeking a solution to an important problem only you can solve, now or in the near future. Everybody else is a suspect. Converting suspects to prospects is hard work and it takes a long time. In my consulting practice, it takes a year or more of careful nurturing to turn a suspect into prospect–a.k.a. an early-stage buyer who is considering doing business with you.
Always be prospecting! Prospecting isn’t an activity you do when you need business. If you need business next week, you have troubles prospecting can’t fix. Always be prospecting regardless of how busy you are. It’s the only way to create sustainable sales pipeline to grow your business. Regardless of your current book of business, you must plant and tend to an abundant garden of prospects ripening for your future harvest each and every day.
Are you clear and confident about where your bigger opportunities will come from?
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