Every business needs to prospect for new clients and customers, even marketing experts often need to reignite past client relationships and form new ones. You don’t need to be the primary salesperson or business development manager to be required to prospect well or even become the best prospector for your business.

Prospecting is considered by many to be the most daunting selling task. Even actual salespeople find prospecting an anxiety provoking exercise, so it’s no wonder that those in positions not directly related to sales find the thought of prospecting as scary as hell.

I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t need to be and quell your suspicions that you’re the only one who finds it this way. Even long time business professionals find prospecting daunting. Those who use a prospecting process however, are immediately better placed – not only for their nerves but also for their prospecting results. Process helps give you direction and small goals to become familiar and actually succeed at prospecting. Many who apply process actually end up finding the job rewarding and ultimately profitable!

Prospecting is not the most important sales skill to master, but it’s the first thing that has to happen for the sales process to begin. It’s the oxygen that fuels the fire of sales. The process is easy:

  1. Identify your prospect
  2. Qualify your prospect
  3. Prioritise your prospect

Firstly, forget the ‘cold call’. Prospecting is not just isolated to cold calling although calling is often the very activity that deters people from the prospecting process. Prospecting is not just about generating new business. It’s also essential for reigniting dormant accounts and clients or developing new business with existing clients.

Prospecting is a step-by-step process for identifying organisations and individuals who have a potential need for your product or service, making contact with them to see if you can be of service and then generating a client & supplier relationship.

Having a plan or system is therefore critical to prospecting success. Putting off the task of prospecting will leave your sales pipeline anaemic and weak and put your job or business in jeopardy. In essence, if you don’t prospect you will become sales unfit.

These days we’re all about our mental and physical wellbeing. We don’t leave our health to chance which is why it’s staggering to see how many businesses don’t make prospecting part of their daily business ‘exercise’ routine. Why leave our sales results, profits and careers to chance? What are people really afraid of?

Sales pipelines often suffer because people do not make the time to prospect. This can be because they’re either ineffective at prioritising or they’re afraid of prospecting and so avoid it all together. Either way avoiding prospecting makes matters worse.

So, put your best foot forward, address your fears and make time to prospect on a regular and consistent basis. Practice at prospecting will also help overcome your fears a bit at a time. If you have difficulty prioritising what is important then you need to make sure that prospecting is made one of your most important priorities. By doing a little each day you can achieve your sales goals and reduce your anxiety about prospecting one phone call at a time.

Here are some tips For Scheduling Your Prospecting:

  • Schedule specific time in your week for prospecting
  • Chunk your prospecting calls in batches – maximum of 120 minutes, ideally
  • 2-3 batches per week
  • Consider doing your prospecting calls first thing in the morning.

This works on two levels, you get it out of the way first thing in the day and it is often the best time to call people. Ideally make prospecting calls at the same time of the day, each day of the week. Consider when you are at your best. It’s best to be clear headed, listening accurately, awake and alert (this varies for everyone). You are therefore less likely to have negative or self-defeating thoughts and least likely to take rejection personally.

Consider distractions – what time of day are you least likely to be interrupted? Choosing your state of mind and your attitude is also critical when prospecting and selling. Successful salespeople know that prospecting doesn’t happen by chance as it requires a consistent and persistent effort.

Successful sales people:

  1. Diarise follow up calls
  2. Use Sales Pipeline to track activity
  3. Keep a number of activities on the go
  4. Prioritise
  5. Persist