Kelly Borth: New goals, new year — what’s your prospecting plan, or are you leaving it to chance?

Typically, if I ask this question to a group of business owners or salespeople, I get a deer in the headlights reaction and an answer that is vague at best. Why is this? We want to grow our businesses and reach our sales goals, but we have no clear path for how we are going to develop that growth.

Sure, we have our typical marketing stuff such as forecasting sales from current customers, attending trade shows, conducting webinars, advertising, scheduling email campaigns and generating Internet leads. This is all good, but with a prospecting plan, it could be so much better.

You might say, “Well my salespeople came up with their sales numbers, so they must have a plan.” Are you sure? Do you know what it is? Is it aggressive enough? Does it include new business development? Your future growth is in their hands. Why leave it to chance? 

Getting started

Make succeeding at sales a part of your company’s culture. Make it a habit by having an action plan and make it fun by rewarding the right behavior and celebrating successes.

Understand and document your company’s prospecting process. Break it into bite-size steps based on what has been working best.

Use the practices of your top sales producers to set the stage for the rest of the team. Each salesperson should reference his or her past sales metrics to guide the amount of new business activity that needs to occur to result in actualized new business.

Once this is known, you can begin to narrow in on exactly how many prospects are needed in the queue.

Do you already have a list of viable prospects or are they suspects? A suspect is a name and email address obtained from a list. A prospect is a company that has an identified need and the potential to buy from you.

If you are starting with a list of suspects, the sales plan will need to start with a prequalification process to net a list of viable prospects. 

Make it a habit

Establish a selling habit and use time efficiently by planning prospecting activities to occur at the same time each week. Plan calls and emails for the best times to reach prospects. Prepare mailings or letters and sales administration work during times prospects are typically not available. Use multiple techniques in your company’s prospecting process: phone, mail, email, case studies and so on. 

Circulate and be visible where prospects hang out

Include networking events, referral requests, social media and other sales-related activities into the plan. You want your salespeople to hang out where your potential customers are present.

Make it a part of your prospecting process to ask for referrals. Invest in relationship building for the long term. There is not always an immediate opportunity, but with an honest and focused effort, it will come. 

Prepare your marketing arsenal for ready position

Have your opening statement ready. Have your voice mail message ready. Have your follow-up email ready. Know the questions your sales team needs to ask. Have relevant examples and success stories ready to share.

 

Planning for the results you need to achieve your sales goals will assure you will reach them. Managing the prospecting process will help assure your organization is executing on plan.

 

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for GREENCREST, a 23-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 30 certified brand strategists in the U.S. Reach her at (614) 885-7921, [email protected] or on Twitter @brandpro. For more information, visit 

LinkedIn: http://bit.ly/SBN_KellyBorth
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GREENCRESTMarketing
Twitter (company): @GreenCrest
LinkedIn (company: http://www.linkedin.com/company/68562?trk=pro_other_cmpy
Blog: http://www.brandproblog.com/

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