The First Day of Prospecting – Think About Those Who Are Close To Home.

The best place to start is to prospect among your existing clients. What better time than at year end when they are winding up the year, AND planning for 2016? What do you know about their successes and losses this year that you can add, expand upon or improve? Your knowledge of their business is the gift that can keep on giving to both you and your client. Start the process out with a little gift – like a year-end review meeting over lunch or dinner. Your existing client base should come first and experience high-touch prospecting that is completely focused on their benefit.

The Second Day of Prospecting – Know Where You are Going before You Start

How many of us set out for a journey without a map and a plan? Lots of us! Particularly when we think we’ve gone there before or know we can figure it out on the way. But with prospecting, the more focused and targeted you can be, the better results you will have. So what are the categories of targets you want to touch? You need a prospecting plan that includes a set of well-defined targets, a multi-touch approach that is mapped out, and an execution schedule that covers all the touches and follow-up you need to complete the entire journey.

The Third Day of Prospecting – Don’t Wait to Go Shopping Until the Last Minute

When is the best time to start prospecting? When you don’t really “need” the leads. Wait a minute – don’t we always need leads? Absolutely. But the level of urgency can often dictate when and how much effort you put into your prospecting activities. Many of us don’t even think of prospecting at year end because we’re so busy trying to close what we have. Often that means trying to pull deals into the end of this year, leaving Q1 of 2016 pretty light. The time to start is now – see the First and Second Day above! If, by year end, you have scheduled time with your existing clients, and have developed an actionable prospecting plan for kicking off in January, you are well on your way to a strong first quarter and a habit that will keep you focused on new business throughout the year.

The Fourth Day of Prospecting – Tell a Story that Will Get Their Attention

The most effective prospecting efforts require knowing exactly who your best targets are – and tailoring your message. Share a story that is relevant and invite them to contribute to that story. Customizing your value proposition by target type will help your engagement in a big way. Think about the clothes you got as gifts last year…any of them one-size-fits all? Did they fit? Probably not! Look at your top three targets and define what the value prop message needs to be for each of them. It may require some massaging of a core message, or you might have one or two significantly different statements. The goal is for each story to be not only worth telling, but worth listening to.

The Fifth Day of Prospecting – Look at Your Lists and Check Them Twice

The next step is preparing your lists to be sure that you are clear on who you want to reach out to. Places to go for lists include your customer list, your current prospects (including the list of prospects that you didn’t close this year), and last but not least, your LinkedIn database. Using these lists, you can cross check to see who knows who, and to gather names of new prospects that you want to add to your 2016 efforts. If you are targeting specific companies, then look at key titles. If you are targeting specific individuals that you know you want to work with, look at their company or business to see what connections you can make. Separate lists are good – but integrated lists yield better results.

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caroling

The Sixth Day of Prospecting – Go Caroling with a Friend

Any prospecting plan worth its salt must include a Referral Network strategy that helps you get to target prospects through others.  Make this a “spirit of giving” part of your plan where you not only look for referrals, but also offer some in exchange. So first, look at your list of targets and research who you know that may have connections to these people. Then next, review the business that your potential referral partners are in – who do you know that might be interesting to them?  Never ask for a referral without being willing and able to offer one up – and be the one who “hums a few bars” first.

The Seventh Day of Prospecting – Remind Your Guests that You’ve Invited Them to a Party

How many of us plan a holiday gathering, send out one invite, and have less people there than you planned? The key is to build some momentum and use repetition to get attention and engagement. How many times are you going to touch your prospect, and what are different methods you can use to “mix it up” a little? Think about how to vary both format and content of the message. Each touch needs to be a little different, as well as offering some more value to demonstrate that talking with you will be useful to them. Plan all your touches in advance, instead of as you go along. You want a cadence of communication that helps drive buyers to your door.

The Eighth Day of Prospecting – Be Strategic on Where You Shop

Consider a section of your plan to focus specifically on one or two very important accounts, with an eye towards prospecting new business and new contacts within each one. Which accounts do you currently have where you know there is more opportunity? This approach has a different twist in that you can apply some Account Based Marketing that will help you increase your penetration of the account and develop new lines of business in other areas of the company. What are the current market issues for this account? How is the account currently handling or planning for their impact? What ideas and offers can you design to help them in these areas? The focus here is to develop a set of highly customized approaches and value props that will really change the conversation you would typically have with a “prospect.”

The Ninth Day of Prospecting – Bring the Best with You on the Journey

Some leads take much longer than others to pan out. It may be timing, it may be circumstances, or it may be your approach. Before abandoning the leads that just don’t close, consider re-looking at them.  Are they fully qualified?  What are the current circumstances in that account? You can retune your value proposition and change up the messaging. Are there any internal personnel changes that may open some other doors? The point here is that you want to be sure that going forward you are bringing those leads that still have value and could be reworked. Re-prospecting your existing lead pool will ensure you don’t waste good leads.

tis the season tweet

The Tenth Day of Prospecting – ‘Tis the Season to Be Social

Another way to mix it up is to go back to your top targets list to see what they are doing in social media. Researching their social outlets can give you some great intelligence that you can bake into a prospecting strategy. Look at their tweets, news blasts, blogs, and even their press releases, to find some nuggets that you can parley into a prospecting approach. Reach out with targeted responses to those social communications that are relevant to demonstrate how you can add value to the conversation. You can add “social touches” to your overall prospecting approach for selected targets.

The Eleventh Day of Prospecting – Are All Your Gifts Completely Unwrapped?

Do a quick assessment of the prospecting tools you use today. The most effective prospecting programs use an array of tools that work across email, social media and telephone. As you move into the New Year, it’s a good time to ask yourself, “Am I using them in the best possible way?” There may be features that you haven’t used yet, or approaches that could be adjusted. Have you used the metrics available with each tool to evaluate performance? Looking at your toolset with fresh eyes is an excellent way to get kick started.

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The Twelfth Day of Prospecting – Take Twelve Days and Multiply by Twelve

Now is the time to set your intentions for 2016. Making a commitment to upgrade your prospecting approach can be as simple as multiplying 12 days by 12 months – giving you 144 days of prospecting for the year. Does that seem like a lot? Absolutely – and if you want to not only beat but exceed your goals, it takes a commitment like this. If you complete all the activities represented in days 1 – 11, then you are ready to have the best prospecting year yet! Don’t wait to prepare, don’t wait till you “have time,” and don’t wait until the urgency for leads is high. Your twelve days starts now!