Prospecting, especially by using the old method of “cold calling”, is one of the most difficult and dreaded activities among sales professionals. Why? Because it’s difficult, it’s uncomfortable, and the effort generally doesn’t yield a high success rate. At least, that is the case for sales professionals who equate “prospecting” with “ cold calling. ” To improve your prospecting success rate, you need to consider all that can and should be done to warm prospects before your first phone call to engage them.
The more insight you have regarding recent history for a particular individual/organization/industry (challenges, leadership change, etc.), the better prepared you are to engage key prospects when you get the chance. Think of this information gathering as the “Exploratory” function for prospecting. But don’t spend your days digging and searching for info. Instead, leverage your CRM, online search tools and social media to bring key information to you.
Any CRM sales intelligence software provides tools that allow you to follow specific companies and even individuals within those organizations. Taking the time to learn the full potential of your CRM intelligence and setting up “watch lists” and other reporting features will reap terrific rewards and save you time and energy that is better spent on personal engagement later is the sales cycle.
Similarly, online search tools such as Google Alerts, allow you to identify topics, publications and organizations for which you receive notification when they appear in online coverage. LinkedIn, which is by far the most effective social media tool for business development, also now has search and reporting capabilities.
Knowledge is power. Investing time and energy upfront to establish your own business intelligence flow will do two things: First, it will make you aware of advantageous timing to contact prospects, due to leadership or other key events in the organization or industry. Second, it will provide you with key insights into the challenges and goals of individuals before you contact them. This insight will allow you to engage them from the start as an informed advisor with a relevant message.