You never get a second chance at a first impression
Effective salespeople never take the all-important first contact with a prospect for granted. They plan ahead. They invest just the right amount of time in pre-research to give the buyer a sense of their value proposition prior to moving forward in the selling process. They adopt the right mindset and the right tools for prospecting success.
The mindset of effective prospectors is in creating opportunity. This is as much about the buyer as it is about the opportunity for the seller.
a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.
This simple definition speaks volumes– honing in on the concept of possibility. Your product or service is an unknown, as are you. The most effective introduction is in creating a set of circumstances introducing possibility.
Warm the Cold
Consider the problems with the old-fashioned cold call– A truly cold call is an initial contact with a prospect with no information in hand. The salesperson has not received a referral nor gathered any details on the buyer, her business, or her situation.
Truly cold outreach is inefficient. Picking up the phone to call 100 random decision makers without pre-research, or blasting 100 insincere emails with the hopes of landing appointments and converting sales are infinitesimally small. With few exceptions, there are always ways to gather a bit of ammunition on a buyer’s situation and the potential value you bring to the table before outreach.
“Just Right” Research
You don’t want to invest tons of time in prospect research before you have even qualified the buyer. However, a bit of light research equips you with the knowledge that a prospect has promise. It gives you important background details to communicate effectively on the introductory call. Most importantly, the more personalized your approach– you’ve done your homework— the greater the opportunity for trust and rapport.
The formulas of 2X2 or 3X3 – Two pieces of research in two minutes (max) or three in three minutes are foundational. These 2-3 salient, personal details discovered must be used in the introductory outreach, often as icebreakers. A good place to start is with the habit of, “I noticed…”. Dale Carnegie that interested is interesting.
AVOID: All too often, salespeople can spend far too much time hunting contact details they’ll never use in a call. Prospect research is not an end in itself – information must be applied to have value. Value occurs mainly with more obvious connection points, not arcane ones. Also, arcane details, applied incorrectly can quickly cross the line into stalker territory.
Given the limited bandwidth of prospectors, it’s important to limit the amount of time researching each target. Develop the habit of focusing only on the most important details.
Social = Viable
We live in an era dominated by the social graph. There are ways to become visible prior, and in parallel to, outreach through more traditional means. There’s no reason not to use them as part of your sales development flow. Tools like KiteDesk provide ways to find prospect social profiles without effort, as well as social networks as part of tracked activities for first touch.
Owler – Free Competitive Intel
Inside the Sales Stack of effective prospecting teams beyond products like our own is a unique data tool like Owler. The peer-driven information presented by Owler can be invaluable. Owler provides pertinent information that’s also conversational.
The alerts you can set with Owler also promote trigger-event outreach and selling, which is a great way to answer the subconscious bias a prospect defaults to– Why are you reaching out to me? Why now?
Owler also shines when it comes to uncovering relevant competitive information. Again, familiarity with a target prospect’s competitors and industry are demonstrable ways to show interest and that you’ve done your homework. Communicating these learnings, succinctly and thoughtfully, sets a proper tone of reciprocity.
With the right mindset and tools in place, the task of prospecting can be made not only less difficult–it will never be easy– but more importantly, more efficient. By reducing the time you spend with greater insight, detail, personalization and fewer steps, you set yourself up for more wins. More qualified meetings.