Mastering the skill of prospecting is one of the most important things you could ever do in your business. If your lead-generation strategy is going like gang-busters, but you dread picking up the phone to actually meet your prospects, your business is dead in the water. Mine was! I can so relate!
Types of Prospecting:
Mention prospecting and many people break into a sweat. I know I did! The first thing you think of is cold-calling and, in my book, “ain’t nobody got time for that!” Not that cold-calling isn’t a legitimate form of prospecting. But, if you are like me, it’s the very most uncomfortable form! Maybe because we are also consumers bombarded with pitches online and off all the live-long day. Pitching, and getting pitched, are about as much fun as drinking vinegar. With spiders in it. And razor blades.
But you’ve got to have prospects if you want sales, and you’ve got to have sales if you want a real business!
So how do we go about finding prospects for our business without being the pariah they recognize from miles away?
There are different ways to go about prospecting, depending on the type of business you have and your goals. If you are looking for local prospects, offline techniques such as attending networking groups, holding events, and doing walk-ins (ugh! that cold-calling thing again!) are good ways to go.
If your business engages a more wide-spread audience, online prospecting techniques are the more obvious choice. We are talking about lead generation here, and there are several ways to do that virtually.
One way is to buy a list of leads from a broker. It’s a quick-and-dirty way to go about finding people to talk to if you don’t have other processes in place yet. I don’t recommend it, but some have had success.
Another way is to buy solo ads. You create an ad for your offer, and someone else submits it to their list of leads for a price.
Pay-per-click, pay-per-view, email campaigns, social media, and blogging are other popular lead-generating strategies.
There is an important commonality to most of these methods. Almost every strategy needs a lead magnet (something your target audience will consider of value that is offered for free in exchange for contact information) to drive traffic to.
Any way you collect a list of leads that are specifically targeted to your offer is fine as long as you are comfortable with it, it is cost-efficient, and it supports your brand.
But once you have those leads, it’s really time to go to work. The most effective way to follow-up with leads is (gulp!) by calling them.
Keys to Calling Your Prospects
Before you address your list of leads, there are a couple of things to take care of first. And they are all in your head!
First and foremost: lose the fear!
Fear is the result of being attached to an outcome. So un-attach. Make your prospecting calls about making a friend, building a relationship. Get to know them and leave the door open for further discussion. See if there is anything in your conversation that points to a need, a frustration or a point of pain that you may be able to help them with. Don’t mention your business on the first call if you can. Be willing to help them even if it is not necessarily with one of your products or services.
If there is no common ground, the worst-case scenario is you just had a lovely conversation. Don’t take it personally, and move on.
Another mindset tip: Do not pre-judge your prospect.
Until you get to know them, you have no idea what their challenges and difficulties are. Most people need a little time to develop a sense of trust in you before they are willing to drop their defenses and share what those are. So give yourself permission to talk to everybody – even the ones you think won’t want what you have to offer.
Now that you’re off on the right foot mentally, let’s get into some practicalities!
Have a game plan!
Have your offers (affiliate, freebies, or your own products/services) at your fingertips for quick reference. Also have a pad and pen or virtual writing tools at the ready for note taking. Do take good notes.
Before you even get on the phone, have a follow-up sequence planned via email or phone, for each scenario:
- Product or service interest
- Informational interest
- Simply keeping the relationship going
- Highlights of advice given on phone call and, if another phone appointment is made, those details
Your prospect will appreciate your thoroughness and professionalism, and you will appreciate not having to re-invent the wheel every time you get off the phone with someone new.
Begin and end the phone conversation with posture.
Have energy. If you have to, stand up while you are talking. Imagine walking through the door in person with your hand extended and a confident smile on your face. Hold that attitude as you speak to your prospect over the phone.
I was once a secretary at Disneyland. (Yes, we were still called secretaries wa-a-a-a-y back then!) Our message pads had a picture of Daisy Duck on the top and a reminder to “put a smile in your voice” when we answered the phone. Even Mickey Mouse had posture 🙂
Continue the conversation with confidence. You have nothing to lose, and you want to make your prospect’s life better.
Keep Your Conversation Brief!
Try not to talk … Sounds counter-intuitive, I know. Make your first prospecting call a quest for information. Ask questions. Then, ask more questions. The more your prospect talks the better. When you are asking the questions, you are in control of the conversation. Try to limit the amount of time you do the talking to less than 3 minutes. And in that this-is-you-talking time, set expectations for how you will be following up with them.
Speaking of setting expectations, do that at the beginning of the call, as well. It is good to let them know you only have “x” number of minutes to talk, so they understand you will not be keeping them on the phone for a significant length of time. It also helps keep the energy going in your voice and in their responses! Be in a hurry, but keep it polite and friendly.
Let Your Tools Do the Talking
Create curiosity in your conversation without mentioning the actual business or product. Then, if you have business videos or video sales letters, use them! Be the connector, the continuity manager, and then let your sales tools work their magic. Remember Show and Tell? Make a friend, and share. Just like that 🙂
Prospecting can be a complicated endeavor and, in many cases, scary at first. With the right message going to the right target market, any lead-generation method you choose should be fruitful. But don’t let those leads grow cold. Follow up to make friends, find their pain-points, and figure out where you can best give them a hand. You are sure to profit from the value you give.