How much time, on average, would you say that you and your salespeople spend on prospecting? If you were really honest with yourself, you'd realize that it's probably far less than you think. But at the same time, it's a task of critical importance as better prospecting will absolutely lead to more quality leads, which in turn gives way to the most important benefit of all: better results across the board.
The good news is that getting to this point is a lot easier than you probably think. It really only comes down to two core elements: numbers and time.
What is Prospecting?
At its core, the idea at the heart of prospecting is simple. You're talking about the process of initiating and developing new business by proactively searching for potential customers, clients or buyers for your products and services.
In other words, you're trying to reach out and make contact with those people who are likely to become a customer of your business in the first place - thus making it easier for them to make that purchase you know will be so impactful on their lives.
The Building Blocks to Better Prospecting
If you truly want to get better at your prospecting efforts, the first thing you need to do is pre-qualify. Research a lead BEFORE you reach out to them, which will give you an indication of quality (and how likely they are to be a good fit for what you have to offer).
Create criteria to evaluate the odds of this person actually becoming a customer. Go one step further and develop a ranking system for prospects and leads to prequalify them internally for potential fit.
If you're able to get this part right, so much of the "hard work" will have already been done for you later on.
Next, you really need to make an effort to follow up on these leads that are being qualified as early and as often as you can. Remember that communication and connection are the keys to everything you're trying to do.
Create a prospecting system - one that includes between six and eight touches over a period of three to four months - that includes a variety of different communication opportunities. Emails, phone calls, social media, face-to-face conversations - you need to be using ALL of this to your advantage.
Having a system in place doesn't just make it easier to see how close you are to accomplishing your goal. It also helps keep all of your efforts on track and moving in the same direction.
Finally, don't forget that your existing customer base is your biggest source of leads - so don't allow yourself to let them feel neglected. Create a system that will enable you and your people to deepen those relationships with your existing prospects, all while expanding their wallet-share with your company at the exact same time.
Never allow yourself to forget the simple truth that any product or service that you offer that an existing client isn't taking advantage of is an opportunity for up-selling, cross-selling and other techniques.
A lot of your existing customers don't do business with you in these ancillary areas because A) they either don't actually know you offer that product or service, or B) you never asked them to.
Luckily, fixing both of those problems is as simple as reaching out to the right person with the right message at exactly the right time.
In the End
It may seem simplistic, but that doesn't make it any less accurate: better prospecting WILL lead to more quality leads and overall better lead generation results, full-stop. Based on that, it's easy to see why spending more time looking into your prospecting process is a step that will be more than worth taking in the days, weeks and months to come.