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Five Key Points to Know About Prospecting

One of the cold, hard facts about the sales profession is that you can't sell to everyone. Any successful sales person knows there will always be somebody who, for whatever reason, either cannot or will not buy. That's why prospecting is absolutely vital. In fact, it's the number one activity you need to do daily — and do well — to achieve long-term success as a sales professional.

Prospecting outranks every other skill and every other business habit, simply because you can’t sell unless you have people to sell to. That's a fact that remains true no matter how successful you become and no matter how many sales records you break. And yet prospecting remains one of the most misunderstood aspects of selling. That's why I’m sharing five key points to know about this must-have business habit:

1. It’s a daily part of the job.

One of the biggest mistakes about prospecting? Focusing on it only when business is slow. If you're in sales, prospecting is not something you do on a part-time basis. Prospecting isyour business. Just as new sales targets are a certainty in your organization, you need to continuously find more people to sell to. That's not something you can do on an occasional basis. You have to treat prospecting as an activity that’s as vital to you as getting paid. Because without it (and in less time than you think), that pay might stop. It's that simple. The stakes are that high.

2. It’s an investment towards your future.

Another common issue is prospecting aggressively only when you need an extra boost in your sales performance figures during a particular quarter. The real truth about prospecting is right there in the word itself; it's borrowed from the Latin word prospectus or "distant view." Prospecting is an activity that serves far more than short-term goals. Think of it as an investment that helps you shape your future and pays dividends not just in the next sales quarter, but in years ahead as well. By constantly finding and developing new leads, you ensure that you’ll always have an audience for your product or service — no matter what kind of market you're faced with.

3. It requires persistence and dedication.

There are plenty of skilled sales professionals out there who know how to close, to navigate past objections, are adept negotiators, and are great at networking. And sadly, all of those skills will never be applied fully unless those same sales people each possess the discipline to get to their desk every day and make those prospecting calls. It's not enough to just be good at prospecting; you have to be good at being persistentabout it, too.

4. Aim high.

During the sales-training and coaching sessions I conduct, I'm often asked how much prospecting is needed to maintain a healthy pace that meets sales targets. A lot of people are surprised by my answer: take your sales target and triple it. You read that right. Your prospecting activities need to exceed by three times the sales you are expected to produce. If that sounds like it entails a lot of work, well, that's because it does. And there's no getting around it. Sales professionals, on average, close one in three qualified leads that are available to them. This means that if your target for next year is $100,000 in sales, you need to find a way to manage a funnel of potential sales of at least $300,000 in value. Any prospecting sum smaller than that and you will more than likely be the victim of a very sobering statistic: the rate of missed sales quotas. The best way to avoid winding up on the wrong end of that statistic is to make sure your sales funnel is big enough. In this case, size definitely matters. For the exact formulas you need to succeed, check out Chapter 3 — Math and Madness — in my book, Non-Stop Sales Boom.

5. Use your time wisely.

Prospecting is a daily commitment. But how much time should you devote to it? It's a point of contention among a lot of sales experts. It really depends on whether you track your closing ratio on your calls. If you don't measure this, plan to be on the phone prospecting every day for at least two hours. That will yield between 25 to 40 calls, out of which you should be able to secure one qualified appointment per day. If, on the other hand, you do measure your closing ratio, make as many calls as you need to so you hit your sales targets. Keep in mind that three qualified leads will yield you one sale.

Prospecting might often feel like a chore. However, the more you invest in the key points above, the more success you’ll see in return. And, the more motivation you’ll have to make this vital business habit a part of your everyday to-do list.   

 
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