Prospecting - the process of finding potential clients - is one of the salesperson’s most difficult tasks. It often requires conversations with unpleasant clients, and often involves refusal and rejection. Interestingly, the clients themselves don’t like it either. Why? Because they don’t like salespeople? Or perhaps because they apply practices that discourage potential clients?

If you do not water a plant, it’ll wilt and wither. When you do not exercise regularly, you gain weight. Forget to fuel up your car, you won’t make it to where you’re going. Prospecting is similar. When you are not consistent and effective in looking for clients, you may sell from time to time, but your results will be average at best.

Effective prospecting is a carefully planned process governed by specific rules. You have to perform certain activities and analyse their results. It takes courage and discipline to continue working despite the fatigue. It’s also a stage in the sales process that - without proper preparation - leads to many disappointments. Take care not to make the following mistakes, which close your path to the client from the beginning.

ERROR 1: ‘You’re the next entry in my database’

Sales based only on having a large number of contacts are not very effective. Clients get tired of receiving so many phone calls that all sound the same. The only thing that changes is the name of the client and the company they work for. If you want to build a valuable relationship with clients and stand out in the crowd, be prepared. Find out something about the potential client to show them that they’re not just another entry in your database. Read about what the company does and what the media have written about them. Also, try to find out how the client responds to sales calls. That’ll be a good reason to start the conversation and attract the client’s attention. When something directly affects us, we’re automatically interested. Is it difficult to find information about the client? Call the client by name: ‘Mr. Smith,’ ‘Mrs. Lee...’ That always gets their attention.

ERROR 2: ‘I’d like to speak with you about possible cooperation’

One of the most common phrases which appears during first contact with a client is suggesting possible business collaboration. And there’s nothing wrong with that - if reasons for doing business have already come up. If, at the beginning of the conversation, you don’t give a strong reason for the client to devote their precious time to you, don’t count on further conversation. If you want to catch the client’s attention, which is a key at the initial stage of the sales process, you need to know your value offer. Show the customer what benefits they’ll gain from using your services: how much they’ll earn, how much they’ll save, how much easier their life and work will be, how to solve a specific problem. Only this will make them pay attention to you. Don’t know what’ll be interesting for the client? Consider how you’ve helped other similar clients and talk about that.

ERROR 3: You present the value offer using dense, formal, logical language

Remember that people buy under the influence of emotions, and that this should also be your message at the beginning of the conversation. It must appeal to their emotions. A good offer should create verbal images that affect the listener. The client needs expressive content and images. The value offer should provide a visual representation of the problems you can solve or how you can help the client. Use the same language that the client uses in everyday life. It's easier to connect with potential customers and trigger the desired response.


Example

It’s better to say: ‘I help clients who have too few customers, whose sales funnels are empty, who don’t make enough sales.’

Instead of: ‘We improve sales efficiency by increasing commercial competence in prospecting activities.’


 

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