If you are in sales you may have read the reports that say social media is absolutely fab, can draw in high numbers of ‘interested’ parties and can generate you more telephone numbers and emails than you know what to do with (which is true) BUT….there is still a high level of concern regarding that first switch from social media ‘connect’ to having the first proper telephone or email conversation – typically conversions are very low, often <1%.
That’s not good if you are waiting for hot, convert-able leads to fall into your lap…and can be an outright disaster if you wait too long before you realise that.
So – let’s use social media for what it gives us – branding, awareness, community building opportunities, research opportunities and while that is all bubbling away in the background, let’s get back to basics and focus on cold prospecting, warm prospecting and any other business development activity we know, trust and can be confident in to deliver results.
First of all let me get one big thing out there – cold calling and prospecting is not the big scary thing you probably think is it….it’s not, and here’s why.
Prospecting is this……. simply, you making contact with a carefully selected senior decision maker in your selected market place, who you feel you and your organisation can genuinely help. The purpose of your call is simply to say hello and to find out his/her possible level of potential interest.
It’s no more complicated – you are ringing because you suspect you can help and assist that person and their business, because you have helped and assisted others just like them, and you want to see if there is an opportunity to have a proper discussion at some point. That’s all.
It’s a very short conversation in the first instance – not burdensome to either part but can be the start of something great for both of you.
So – why are you stalling? Here’s my take on it:
1. You think it’s more complicated than it is
2. You think you’ll be a nuisance
3. There are so many displacement activities you could be doing instead that prospecting rarely makes it to the top of your list
4. You think that your prospect must already have someone just like you supplying them…this is true, but they’re not you and you could do the job so much better…couldn’t you?
5. You hate the rejection – But I bet if you thought carefully about who you wanted to call, figured out specifically why your two companies should chat, had just one or two key sentences to explain how you had helped businesses just like theirs then, I know you would eliminate 90% of the rejections you think you will get
Now, here’s the 10 reasons why you should make cold prospecting and business development your key priority for at least part of your day, on a very regular basis, I would suggest daily:
1. Prospecting is a cumulative activity, you see, if your pipeline is skinny this months, it’s because you didn’t prospect well or enough two or three months back (depending on your sales cycle). So every call you make to a cold prospect will allow for a very positive outcome. Either you find out information about why your firms can’t work together or you get a qualified and profiled lead that fits into your CRM at the appropriate time ready for a call back, and this is why prospecting is so great – you’re playing it forward, you are taking care of the next 12 months sales figures today, no panic, no stress, because if you have enough qualified leads in your pipeline then you know you will hit target in whatever the month is.
Plus, after a while, cold prospecting and business development takes on an organic life of its own, where you couldn’t even stop it if you tried. You see, people will refer you, people will move posts and take you with them, some of your larger prospects will act as an introducer into other divisions of the bigger group….and so it goes on. Your network will grow exponentially….but only once you get started and only once you get to a certain critical mass
2. Everyone else is waiting for the social media channels to drop leads into their lap so the competition is not as active as they used to be….typically the major prospectors today are in telecoms and utilities. What I want you to take from this is now is that the bar is very low – a great prospecting call will have a high chance of success.
3. I use the term cold call and interchange it with prospecting call, in reality there is no such thing as a cold call any more. With the benefits of Google, LinkedIn and any number of other search tools you can easily and swiftly find out the name of the decision maker you need to contact and often also collect their email/direct dial along the way.
4. You become good at it. I have a policy with lots of sales people I work with – 10 conversations before 10 am. Not only does it get your day off to a great start, you’ve already killed the biggest bug bear. Plus, most decision makers are at their desks before their secretary gets in and are still there after many of the gate keeps have left Choose your time wisely to approach the senior decision makers and avoid the gate keepers
5. You never have to scramble to fill your diary….appointments drop in very easily. If your diary is half empty then that’s a clear sign that your prospecting activities are below par and you should seriously devote some time to prospecting
6. You can create warm prospects to call simply by using LinkedIn to connect a few days before you are due to make telephone contact….plus the call is super easy since LinkedIn profiles and Google searches can tell you almost everything you need to know about your target prospect, their company, their industry, their competitors and their likely challenges…of course, you still have to put in the hard work and do the research, but isn’t it worth it when you pick up the phone, totally confident, totally informed and totally at easy knowing that you will have a conversation where you can engage from a position of information and knowledge, rather than a desperate scramble to form a connection. Trust me, it’s worth the effort, because guess what? So few of your competitors with think it’s worth it, and even fewer will be bothered to do it…that’s why you should do it!!
7. Prospecting builds your value as a sales and business development professional, your value to your company, your industry, the business world as a whole and for yourself…don’t you want the biggest and best address book in your industry?I’m sure you do…
8. Smashing targets will be easy…sales is a numbers game played with intelligence and guile. It takes the same effort, and in many cases a lot less effort to close a 30k deal as it does to close a 1k deal. So, be smart about where you focus your activities – do you want to go for the tiny, tiny prospects and do an educational sell many, many times over or do you want to approach the larger players in your prospect market and pipeline some bigger deals. Remember, you have 24 hrs in a day – if you spend it chasing minnows, don’t expect to catch a marlin! (I know nothing about fishing, but I think Marlins are huge – right?)
9. You will learn loads. And I mean loads – about your industry, your clients industry, your prospects challenges, the competitors, both yours and your prospect…and that’s really, really good because you become the expert. An expert with the status of well-connected trusted adviser can be everyone’s go to person, that includes your current clients, prospects, and anyone else who is interested in forming strategic partnerships, alliances and values relationships with highly credible people. I’m sure you want all of that for you, your career, your earning potential and your professional status. Don’t you?
10. Lastly – do yourself a favour and STOP thinking about it as cold prospecting – you are extending a helping hand out to prospective decision makers that can greatly benefit from your services or product. If they want to do business or have a conversation with you then that’s great. If they don’t, then that’s great too because it gives you the time and energy to focus on helping someone else.
Hope that’s helped, actually, I hope it’s given you a really good nudge to look at cold prospecting and business development in a slightly different way to help you achieve your personal and professional goals.
As ever, if you have any specific questions or queries – send me and email or call me – details below.
Next week, I’m going to look at the best opening pitch for new business development and cold prospecting.
Have a great weekend
Morton Kyle Limited
0779 002 1885