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Three Keys to Successful Prospecting

“What’s the #1 Key to Successful Prospecting?”

There isn’t a “#1” Key. If you want to have success when prospecting, you’ll need to know and consistently follow several principles.

Here are a few of the top “Prospecting Keys” as I see them:

1) Know how to pick your zebra out of a herd

In other words, what characteristics would your prospects have to have to at least pre-qualify to be considered a “suspect”?

I remember being hired by a web development firm back in the heyday of Internet startups (early 2000’s), and I asked them, “who’s our target market?” They replied with the “we can work with anyone… the whole world is our client base” response. They went out of business a short time later.

As a sales rep, you need to know, even if you technically can sell your products/services to “anyone,” who your specific target market is. You don’t have to be too narrow; however, being too broad is almost a certain recipe for failure (unless you have enough inbound “hand-raisers” to keep you busy)

2) Fish where the fish are

Once you’ve identified what your best prospects look like, find resources that command their attention/eyeballs. Some of these resources could be:

  • Magazines (that they read or advertise with)
  • LinkedIn / LinkedIn Groups
  • Newsletters that they subscribe to
  • Podcasts they listen to
  • Conferences they attend
  • Newsletters and or Blogs they read (and then become a guest blogger or pay to have a strong call to action lead generation ad in there)

After that, “we sell to everyone” web development company went out of business, I went to work for a company that sold online advertising to high-end auto dealers. My boss taught me to find new prospects in a certain magazine, and he told me only to call those who were already doing full-page ads. He said, “stay away from the little ad guys because they are just testing the waters.

It’s easier to close someone that already knows the value of advertising and has the money to do full-page ads”. He was right.

Every month when this new particular magazine came out, I would quickly go through it and any new full-page ad I saw I would tag it, research to find the decision-maker, and contact them. It was my best lead resource. Of course, this was before LinkedIn was around, but the lesson I learned still works today.

Fish where the fish are.

3) Constantly grow your database

I was going to say “always restock your lake”, but I thought that would be too many game and fish analogies for one newsletter, but you get the idea.

Your database has three types of prospects in it:

  • Prospects that will buy from you soon;
  • Prospects that will buy from you down the road;
  • Prospects that will never buy from you.

The problem with closing a deal is you just lost your best prospect!

Top salespeople, in my opinion, are always making sure their water well doesn’t run dry, and so they are always using their tried and true resources, while always on the lookout for new ones, and make a conscious effort to continue to add new prospects to their database.

LinkedIn is an excellent resource for that. Once you know how to identify the characteristics of what pre-qualifies what your top suspects look like, you can seek them out on LinkedIn and connect with them.

“OK I get the magazine lesson, and I understand the LinkedIn angle… But newsletters? How is that supposed to help me gain new prospects?”

Let’s say you sell to CFO’s. And you find a company that has a weekly newsletter that goes out to only CFO’s.

What would happen if you placed an ad in that newsletter, and in that ad, it had a strong call to action that would get a bunch of those CFO’s to say, register for an upcoming webinar you or your company is having on how to solve (PROBLEM X)?

You could generate anywhere from 50 to 500 fresh new leads with one ad drop and usually without investing a lot of money, considering the potential upside of the life of all those leads.

If you want different results, you have to be willing to do different things. Success in anything largely depends on your risk tolerance and your ability to think your options through.

– Michael Pedone

Michael Pedone teaches inside sales teams how to pick up the phone and close business. He is the CEO/FOUNDER of SalesBuzz.com – An online sales training company.

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