This morning I was interviewed by Umar Hameed of No Limits Selling, http://www.NoLimitsSelling.com. We were talking about prospecting, sales, life and overcomplicating things that are basically very simple. That conversation prompted this article.
To my mind, prospecting is very simple. It's a matter of truly understanding what you are selling (Sales 101, features and benefits), understanding the buyer (Sales 101, targeting your market) and connecting the two. You then want to craft language that will help your prospect easily "get it" and be willing to take action.
When I say prospecting is simple, what I really mean is that the concept is simple. It's very basic, usually topics that are covered in a Sales 101. The execution however, how you use that understanding of the value you represent and how you use your understanding of the prospects that you target, that's more complicated. Execution requires a deep understanding of your market and what resonates with your prospects. It requires thought. It requires that you dig deeply. It requires focus. Those things are much more difficult.
If you are able to take these simple concepts, dig deeply and make them work, making prospecting calls becomes much easier. People stop hanging up on you. People stop saying they're "not interested," they "have a vendor" or "send me some information, we'll call if we need you." Prospecting ceases to be a struggle.
Today, prospecting is more difficult than it was 10 years ago or even five years ago. People are harder to reach, they are busier than ever and they are more stressed. It takes more to grab and hold their attention. The only thing that will stop a prospect in their tracks so that they'll listen to you is if you've done your homework and really understand how the value you represent can impact your prospect for the better and that you have the verbiage you need to make that clear to your prospect. This is both very basic and at the same time quite complex.
My first career (as some of you may already know) was as a ballet dancer. When I was a young dancer I believed that if dancing didn't hurt I wasn't doing it right or if it didn't hurt I wasn't working hard enough. Don't get me wrong, being a ballet dancer is hard work. There is a line, however, between hard work and injury. Now as an older dancer, with many, many injuries behind me I have come to realize that if it hurts, I'm probably doing it wrong.
In ballet, when you're executing a step incorrectly you must go back to the basics to correct it. Executing a step incorrectly means pain, possible injury and that you are actually not even able to execute the step. If you don't do it right, you can't do it at all and you run the risk of hurting yourself.
The same is true in sports. When a team is continually losing, the owners fire the coach. Then they bring on a new coach. What does the new coach do? Invariably, it's back to basics.
So then, we have prospecting. If you struggle with prospects, if they won't talk to you, hang up on you, berate you or otherwise abuse you, the approach you are using does not work. It's time to do something else and that something else is to circle around and go back to basics. What are you selling? What is the value that you represent? Why do your customers buy? What problems are you solving for your customers? How do you help your customers? If you are clear with the answers to these questions, your prospecting calls will stop hurting. In prospecting, as in ballet, if it hurts, you're probably doing it wrong.
© 2008 Wendy Weiss
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