5 Steps to Cultivating Solid-Gold Sales Prospects

Throughout history, rich and poor alike have wished, hoped and worked to find their very own veins of gold. During the California Gold Rush, hordes of pioneers risked life and limb to stake claims on potentially valuable hills and valleys, and when gold was found in the great white north, similar groups of enterprising individuals rushed to Alaska and the Yukon. Today, right now and every moment, your business should also be searching tirelessly for gold: solid-gold sales prospects, that is.

Prospects are the key to business success. If your business doesn’t have enough potential customers on hand, you’ll expend too many resources trying to find and entice consumers who aren’t terribly interested in closing the deal. If you are struggling to identify which prospects are golden for your business, here are a few steps to integrate into your sales strategy.

Research

You should know by now that you shouldn’t do anything in business without researching first. When it comes to sales prospects, you need to understand the quality of your leads before you commit valuable resources to their pursuit. Otherwise, you could be wasting your time and energy chasing a lead that will never convert.

Fortunately, modern technology makes the research phase incredibly easy. First, you can visit social networking sites to find relevant information regarding a lead’s interests and intentions. The best sites for this step include: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Glassdoor. Next, you can use your own company’s CRM information to see if any related data has been dug up before. Sales prospecting tools are powerful resources to assist sales, and you should be taking full advantage of them during the research phase. Finally, you should peer into industry news to develop talking points, should you choose to pursue this lead.

Some concerns you might highlight during the research phase include:

  • Is the prospect a fit? Do they fall within your territory? Do they fit your buyer persona?
  • Do you know the stakeholders? Are the decision makers different from the influencers?
  • Is the prospect aware of your offerings?
  • Does the prospect have constraints? Are there time or budget limitations that you cannot work within?

Prioritize

Once you have researched your leads, you need to organize that information to optimize your sales. The process of prioritization saves you time and energy because it allows you to devote most of your efforts toward the prospects who are most likely to convert.

You don’t need to craft an immutable list of every lead; rather, you should create a few buckets of prospects with differing dimensions, depending on your interests and needs. For example, if you are focusing on prospects more likely to close sooner than later, you will likely prioritize your leads differently than a company (or individual salesperson) that gives precedence to the size of the opportunity.

Reach Out

In most cases, you will need to reach out to prospects several times before you convince them to convert. Fortunately, the research you compiled on your leads earlier should assist you in this process, giving you greater understanding and control over the relationship.

The first time you touch base with your prospect, you should tailor your messages closely to their precise requirements, desires and fears. The more personalized you are in your sales pitch – referencing specific problems the prospect faces and expressing human emotions – the more your prospect is likely to listen. Still, you shouldn’t push too hard at this stage; you should try to keep the conversation casual, so your prospect isn’t put off.

Evaluate

From the first contact onwards, you should be assessing your performance, your prospect’s behavior and other elements of the relationship to understand which tactics are working and which aren’t. You should get in the habit of keeping notes on each prospect, perhaps using your company CRM or else an app like OneNote or Evernote. Then, whenever you conclude a meeting, a phone call or even an email-based interaction, you can dissect it to determine how well you:

  • Revealed challenges the prospect is facing
  • Defined the prospect’s and your goals
  • Determined budget
  • Understood the prospect’s decision-making process
  • Identified results of failure or success

Over time, these notes will help you coalesce your experience into guidelines for dealing with different types of prospects more effectively.

Connect & Close

Closing isn’t always a good thing. You can close the deal and lose your prospect, failing to initiate a purchase. However, if you have successfully identified a solid-gold prospect and negotiated the outreach and evaluation phases effectively, you are more likely to close on a win.

You can’t sell without prospects, but you also can’t sell if all your prospects are iron pyrite. You need to be certain that the prospects you invest time and energy into will reward you – and for that, you need to work hard to identify solid gold.

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