Prospecting is as much about having the skills as it about executing the behavior. For the most successful salespeople, sales prospecting is an ongoing, never ending process. Even when times are good, the best salespeople know they have to consistently keep doing the same behaviors to keep their pipeline full.
How to Prospect to Get More Appointments
1. Just do the Prospecting BehaviorOftentimes, entrepreneurs, presidents, and CEOs share with me that their people just aren’t getting enough new, high quality opportunities into the top of their sales funnel. Then, when I ask them if it’s “will” (just not doing the behavior) or “skill” (doing the behavior, but not getting results), nine times out of ten, if they’re being honest, their response is “will.” And during the stretches through which you are extraordinarily busy? Just do a little behavior all of the time. Never go a single day without doing some prospecting behavior.
2. Do MORE of the prospecting Behavior
The good news is that you’re doing prospecting behavior. The bad news is that you’re (likely) not doing enough of it. If I dial the phone 70 times, I’ll likely get 10 conversations. If I have 10 conversations, I’ll typically get at least one appointment. That’s right, I have to dial the phone 70 times to get an appointment. If you need five unique new appointments per week to hit your goals, you’ve got to make 350 calls a week. There’s no way around it. In sales, there is no activity that is more important than prospecting. It is the lifeblood of any business. I don’t doubt that there are 70 tasks that you could do instead of prospecting. However, one’s values are defined by their behavior. What does your behavior say about you?
3. Set a “no” goal
You likely sit down to make cold calls with a goal in mind. Likely that goal is to set an appointment. While that’s a noble goal, you’ve got to stop that thinking immediately. If the key performance indicator you’re going to use to judge your own success is completely out of your control, you won’t last long. Instead, you should be tracking “no” answers. The problem with sitting down with the intent of getting a “yes” from a prospect is that this is entirely too much pressure. It’s easy to quit if, after 30 attempts, you’re no closer to your goal of a single “yes.” But, if instead your goal is to collect 40 “no” answers today, you’re 75% of the way there. And, more often than not, along the way you accidentally uncover a “yes” or two.
4. Stop talking about you, your company, and your product and/or service
Your prospect doesn’t care about you, your company, or your products and/or services. They care if you can fix their problem. And they don’t pay you for your product and/or services. They pay you to fix the problem that they have. Get used to framing conversations along the lines of “these are the types of problems I help fix.” Your prospect doesn’t have three minutes to learn about you or your product. But they’ll make time for the alleviation of a meaningful problem.
5. Work “the formula”
It’s a simple formula: if your prospect has pain, and the pain is relevant to what you sell, and the pain impacts them in a meaningful way, and they are committed to solving this pain, you’re no longer talking to a prospect. You are talking to a qualified lead. And this lead will be compelled and motivated to enter your sales process and book a meeting with you. A prospecting attempt isn’t about providing your or your company’s biography. A prospecting attempt isn’t about making a proposal. A prospecting attempt is about working and sticking to the formula and setting the appointment.
6. Don’t get derailed
Simply put, if a prospect has a pain you solve, it’s impacting them negatively, the size and scope of the impact is meaningful, and they’re committed to fixing it, they need to meet with you. Oftentimes, a prospecting call that has seemed successful so far, is met with a litany of garbage and excuses when it’s time to set the appointment. But if your conviction and commitment is stronger than their excuses, you’ll get the appointment.