There are five keys to successful prospecting. First, you must understand who your ideal customers are and what market niches they represent. By market niche we mean a slice or segment of the market or pool of potential customers that have an interest in your products and services. For example, if you have a plumbing repair business, one of your market niches is homeowners. How would you define this niche further? Are any of your ideal customers owners of new homes or homes that were built in say the last 2-3 years? If you think in terms of your “ideal” customers the answer is more than likely no. You would want to look for homes that were built maybe 15, 20, 25 years ago.
How else can you define your market niches? Are there particular areas of the city or geography that you want to serve or have served? Are there geographies that you will not serve? As you think about how to define your ideal customer and market niche, it is sometimes useful to consider parts of the market that you would not consider customers. This can help you define or refine how you define and identify your ideal customer. Once you have a good definition of your ideal customer and market niches, then you will know who to contact as part of your sales system.
There are several basic questions you can ask to help figure out who your ideal customer is and what market niches you need to use to prospect for more customers. For example:
The second key to successful prospecting is to “know” your offers. By this we mean that you must really have a thorough understanding of the killer offers you designed as part of your marketing strategies. It’s important to know your offer because when you approach a potential set of ideal customers, you have to be ready to give them an irresistible offer. We are all short on time these days or so it seems. Most of us are in a hurry to do something. But we will take the time to consider an offer that we find irresistible. If you have only a short amount of time to talk to your prospects, the better you know your offers the easier it will be to prospect effectively.
For your irresistible offers, as you consider developing them specifically for prospects, try to answer the following questions. The answers to these questions will provide you with the details you need to build offers that specifically appeal to prospects and bring you new customers.
Third, you will need to know where to find your ideal customers and people in your target market niches. You need to be able to look for them at “water holes” where they gather. If there aren’t any centralized locations – and you can use both offline locations and online locations – can you create one? If we consider again the plumbing repair service, where would you recommend this business go to find ideal customers as part of their prospecting? How about real estate agents? If this was your business you could contact real estate agents and ask if any of their customers need your service. Or, the agents themselves may have rental properties that need your services. In addition, you could contact any homeowner’s groups or neighborhood associations to find prospects among your market niche.
And, as you consider how to find more of your “ideal” customer to be part of your prospecting process, consider detailed answers to these questions.
Fourth, to successfully prospect you must leverage your time. Time is your precious resource, as it is for most of us. We’ve already discussed ways to make sure you stay focused and only work on money-generating activities. For prospecting, you must also take advantage of opportunities to leverage your time effectively. With prospecting, you have several choices of how to spend your time. This is part of why it is so important to first identify your ideal customers and know your killer offers. With these already defined, you won’t waste time prospecting with people that are not your ideal customer or that won’t be motivated by your offer.
Fifth, focus and discipline are important parts of your sales system. Stay focused on the objective of each phase of the process. For prospecting, keep in mind that the only objective you have is to develop a list of potential customers for the next step in the system or process. Once a list is developed, you then move into the Approach phase or Step 2. Like most of the rest of the material we have presented or will show you, a systematic approach that is applied consistently over time – or focus and discipline – is what generates such BIG results.
Prospecting is a critical part of your business growth and development potential. Without a new stream of customers coming into your business, you will max out sales to your existing customer base and eventually get to a point where your business will no longer grow. To provide a mechanism for ongoing growth in your sales and profits so that you can achieve your dividend and profit goals, you must spend time prospecting.
There are a few more guidelines for how to be the most effective you can be at prospecting for new customers. Many of these are based on material we’ve discussed in your marketing strategy. But, they are equally important as part of your prospecting activities.
Next we’ll go over your approach as part of the sales system.