People who thrive on adrenaline often feel attracted to a career in sales. They enjoy the rush of closing sales and having greater control over their earning power than they would in many other types of jobs.
However, a lot of prospecting work must take place behind the scenes before the sales representative can even be in the position to close a sale. That means dozens of phone calls to decision-makers protected by gatekeepers and hearing no much more often than hearing yes.
Sales organizations, like all businesses, often look for ways to improve at the start of each new year. Now that 2019 is officially here, it’s a good idea for each representative to evaluate how he or she prospects to determine if the process could benefit from some changes. Below are some tips for more effective prospecting methods in the new year provided by some industry experts.
Ask for Referrals from Current Clients
Sales requires a steady influx of new clients as well as continual nurturing of existing contacts to remain profitable. Salespeople who do well building trust with existing clients should have no problem asking them for referrals at the end of a call or visit. Nearly two-thirds of clients are willing to provide referrals to salespeople they know and trust if he or she asks for one. To take full advantage of the referral, the salesperson should ask the current customer to set it up so it can count as a qualified lead.
Create an Ideal Customer Profile
It’s a waste of time to engage in prospecting activities with those who are unlikely to buy. To avoid this, sales representatives should consider creating an ideal customer profile and updating it every six months. Each profile should contain the following information at a minimum:
- Names and positions of key contacts
- Annual revenue
- Number of employees
- The company’s NAICS (North American Industrial Classification) or SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) number
- Company location
- Events that affect the company both internally and externally
- Corporate values and culture
Including information about how the customer came to the sales representative’s attention in the first place is also a good idea. Using this list, salespeople should come up with the five best and five worst customers over the last six months based on revenue and who is the most pleasant or challenging. Finally, analyzing what the top five customers have in common will give them new insights into who makes up their target market.
Form Strategic Partnerships with Other Sales Representatives
Getting past the gatekeeper and speaking to a primary decision-maker at a prospect company is becoming more challenging than ever. One way to get around this is to work with sales representatives from other companies and agree to help make introductions to key people and promote each other’s products. This can dramatically reduce the time it normally takes to establish credibility with a new prospect.
Schedule Consistent Time for Prospecting
It can be easy to avoid prospecting when the deals are coming in quickly. Unfortunately, the new business won’t last forever, and the sales representative will have no new prospects unless he or she schedules time for prospecting each day. It will soon become a discipline that will pay off with a full pipeline of potential new clients.
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