1. Don’t do the bulk of your business prospecting during prime business hours. Often the call that is placed at 8AM or 6PM will be received by a decision-maker that has more time to talk. Don’t under-estimate the value of leaving voice mail messages at night. These will be the very first messages that your prospect will hear in the morning, thereby increasing the odds of them placing a returned call.
2. If you want to present products and services that are of value to the prospect and that meet their needs, you have to ASK questions. Ask the right questions and the prospect will tell you what they want and how they need to be sold.
3. Too many sales reps launch into a conversation by discussing the features of their products and services. Features never sold anyone. The only thing that a prospect cares about is what these features will do for them. In other words, speak in terms of benefits and your prospect will be more pre-disposed to listening to your presentation.
4. There’s no magic bullet. Prospecting takes time and if your sales pipeline isn’t always filled with prospects in various stages of being worked, then you are in for a future sales slump.
5. Don’t underestimate the power of faxes. In these days of email, faxes have taken a back seat. Because of that, faxes get noticed. Carefully position faxes as part of your prospecting efforts.
6. Follow-up and follow-through are keys to prospecting success. Just like gardening, if you don’t water the seeds, the garden will languish. And so it is with prospecting… if you don’t remain in contact, you will never break through.
7. Give a prospect something for nothing. An article that would be of interest and value, information that you received online etc. and transferred to the prospect with a note "just thought you might be interested in this" indicates that you are thinking of them and wish to be a resource.
8. Periodically tape-record a random sampling of your cold calls. Listen to the tape and assess your tone and voice. How did you sound? Would you want to speak with a person who sounds like you? What about your words? Were they clear and benefits oriented. Taping gives you the opportunity to self-correct your presentation.
9. Pace yourself. Prospecting is a very time-consuming and arduous task. Allocate a specific amount of time each day (week?) and keep to the schedule. It is always easy to put something ahead of the prospecting activity but make an appointment with yourself and don’t break it.
10. Last but definitely not least, maintain a good sense of humor. Make the prospect smile and you’re halfway there!
Adrian Miller is the President of Adrian Miller Sales Training, a training and business consulting firm that she founded in 1989. Adrian Miller Sales Training designs and delivers sales-level performance training and executive-level business development consulting for your unique business.