Prospecting is not rocket science.
The steps outlined below may seem like a lot to tackle, but if you look at each step individually you will see that they are not particularly difficult. The power is in knowing all the steps and then executing them in a coordinated manner to get the result you seek at an acceptable cost.
1. DETERMINE YOUR ULTIMATE GOAL.
This is not about setting appointments. This is about generating worthwhile profitable sales at an acceptable cost. All efforts must contribute to reaching your pre-determined worthwhile goal. Answer questions like this. What volume of new revenue do you seek? How many new accounts do you need? What is the average new account worth? How many sales appointments do I need to obtain one worthwhile account?
Answer these questions so that you don’t end up setting appointments with prospects that don’t buy or buy too little.
2. SELECT YOUR TARGETS.
Sixty percent of your results come about merely by selecting the right targets.
Most common mistake made in a rush to jump start sales is to start engaging in activities to “see what happens”. Big mistake. Keep your eyes on your ultimate goals. You need accounts of a certain size that generate an acceptable profit margin. There are always exceptions but almost always a large percentage of these accounts fit a certain profile. They may be in a certain industry, geographic area, generate a certain sales volume, have a specific range of employees, etc.
Do not assume you know who your best targets are. Take a few short hours to list out the current clients you have you would like to clone in droves. Add to that list your competitors best clients you would like to have. Now next to each name on the list write down specifically what you know or can find out about that company. What specifically is their industry, SIC code, revenue range, employee size range, location, growth rate, etc. You may have to do some research to obtain this info, but if you know where to look it is quick and easy to get and invaluable to the success of your prospecting program.
Simply stated 80% or more of your best prospects will fit into a standard profile. Spend too much time outside of that profile chasing the exceptions to the rule and you will find yourself very frustrated and spending too much money to generate a qualified prospect.
3. SET UP YOUR PHYSICAL WORKSTATION.
You need a basic computer with a local printer and maybe even a fax machine nearby. In a perfect world you would have a headset and a direct phone line into your computer so that the computer will do your dialing for you For software you need a contact manager , an automated Email autorespondor, a fax program, and a simple desktop publishing program to create materials you need. That’s it.
4. SET UP YOUR CONTACT MANAGER FOR MAXIMUM EFFICIENCY.
Two things are critical here. First, you need to establish a numerical coding system so that you can prioritize your targets in accordance with their worth to you (remember, all accounts are not created equal). Example. Accounts contacted you have been unable to penetrate may be coded a “3”, accounts you are currently contacting are coded “4”, accounts that are better than average are “5”, the best accounts are a “6”. You get the idea. The concept is to be able to deal with groups of similar accounts. You can’t decide to spend more or less time or more or less money with a group of accounts if they are not properly coded.
Second, you want to standardize certain repetitive notations. You don’t need to hand type “called, left voicemail message, sent fax, scheduled another call in three days “over and over again. Many repetitive notations can be reduced to two keystrokes. Save yourself drudgery and do this early.
5. WRITE YOUR SCRIPTS.
We have covered the format of a successful script in previous e-mails. You need three standard scripts. An identify the decision-maker script, a 30 second set the appointment script and a voicemail script. My recommendation is to type these out double spaced on one sheet of paper that will be right in front of you when you call.
Remember that the script you start with will not be the one you ultimately end up using.
As you call you will make changes. It is not unusual to morph through 6 scripts before developing the one that flows off your tongue best.
6. CREATE YOUR SUPPORTING MATERIALS.
You don’t need a lot, but what you do need is very important. You need a fax you can use to supplement your calling, so that those who you cannot reach, yet have an interest in your offer can identify themselves to you. You also need some type of material to send to those who request it AND WHO YOU DEEM WORTHY OF RECEIVING IT.
First the Email and maybe even a fax. (Don’t laugh.) The best prospecting Emails/faxes will re-state the benefits of your offer, give prospects an incentive to identify themselves (something that works well is the offer of a report or checklist which would be of value to your target audience), have an obvious response device and specific instructions (ex. Fill out form below and fax to 978-927-xxxx), and one or two easy to respond to qualifying questions (How much do you buy or how many do you buy type questions). Make it easy for people to raise their hand out of the crowd. Fax is a great way to do this.
Now the response to an information request. This should be in written, fax and email form. If someone asks you to send something you want to be able to respond immediately.
One caveat. Just because someone requests information from you doesn’t mean you should send it. If your typical response to someone who requests that you send them information is “um, okay”, you are a wimp. Information requests are typically people who will waste your time. Send info only to those you have qualified as to their specific intentions and whom you have decided are worthy of an additional time investment.
7. DESIGN YOUR MEASUREMENT SYSTEM.
You really only need two forms. The first is a daily/weekly activity form. On this form you will track your key activities. Those activities typically are the number of meetings set, conversations with decision makers and the number of new companies you initiate the process with. You will also want to keep track of how many companies are being actively pursued at any one time.
There is a certain rhythm to success. Over time you will learn that in order to set X number of sales appointments you must contact Y companies. In order to set a sales appointment you typically have to speak to X number of decision makers. If you know your typical pattern and keep this info in front of you, you will have an early warning system when you start to deviate from your numbers. You can then take action to get back on track before it is too late.
You also want a separate weekly result sheet where you track the specifics of your successes. When you set up a sales appointment you would list out all the specifics of that appointment and details known about the prospect. This is important because over time you will notice certain patterns about the worthiness of certain appointments. With this information you will allocate your time and target your efforts to those activities that tend to produce more worthwhile results for you.
8. DESIGN YOUR INCENTIVE SYSTEM.
Very important. Outside of selecting your targets I feel that the incentive system is the most important reason why your program will consistently generate results at a reasonable cost. Big mistake made is to set up an incentive system that is unreachable. Management typically thinks that if they set the goal high before any extra money is earned, that productivity is increased. Nothing could be further from the truth. Management should only be concerned with the cost per inquiry and the cost per sales appointment. You want to have a system where no matter what happened yesterday, the last two days or last week, the appointment setter can feel that if they do a good job that day, they can make more money. If you set a high monthly goal and the first week or so is poor, the appointment setter mentally gives up for the month because the bonus goal is now out of reach. Same for a high weekly goal.
This is what works best. Let’s assume that the average weekly productivity for a part time appointment setter is six qualified appointments. The first small incentive payment should be earned at the 3rd or 4th meeting. An increasingly additional larger payment should be earned for the 5th, 6th and 7th meetings weekly Because a bonus payment is always within reach, there is always the incentive to reach it.
I personally also like to see a small daily bonus. If a person has a great day they can with a small sum for 2 or 3 meetings set in one day. What gets results is counter-intuitive. Small incremental payments always within reach consistently generate leads and appointments at the lowest cost. Incentive systems that set the bar too high destroy the motivation of the appointment setter. Be concerned only with your per inquiry or per appointment costs. That is what counts.
9. HIRING YOUR PROSPECTOR.
These are difficult jobs to fill and retain people. Turnover will kill an otherwise great program. These are part time jobs. Let me repeat. These are part time jobs. Productivity decreases tremendously after 3 to 3 ½ hours of calling. You are fooling yourself to think otherwise. The best people are those who can earn more money than at their previous job and who value a convenient flexible position.
There are a lot of smart personable people making little who think they are in heaven when they can make much more with their incentive payments. Also, many people value a flexible situation. If you are willing to vary work hours and be flexible with working moms you can find a loyal hard working employee who gets you results.
Big tip. The most important interview is the first phone call someone makes to you inquiring about the position. Resumes are of little significance for these jobs. Evaluate their phone presence. That is what your prospects will be doing. The above is an overview of the major steps which take place in setting up a prospecting system which will consistently generate qualified leads or sales appointments for you at a reasonable cost. There are nuances and variations by industry and types of sales cycle.
Best wishes for prospecting success,