If you sell for a living – you understand that the quality of your prospecting determines your level of sales success.
But prospecting can be very time consuming and tedious, so consequently few salespeople do enough of it. By default, the untrained seller ends up aimlessly reaching out to businesses, experiencing repeat rejection.
Here are some signs you are wasting your precious sales time:
- You are typing business names into a Google search box.
- You are driving around town looking for businesses you haven’t seen before.
- You are opening the phone book.
- You walk into businesses to ask who the owner is.
Consider what Todd Duncan writes in his book High Trust Selling about the law of the Bullseye:
“If you don’t aim for the best prospects, you are likely to do business with any prospect.”
But how do you measure what the best prospects are so that you can repeatedly find them? Here are some common characteristics-
- High revenue/profit margin company
- High (fill in the blank) industry spending (Advertising, utilities, printing, i.e. whatever you are selling)
- Geography (close in proximity, lucrative area of town)
- Large number of employees
Unfortunately, you can’t just open a phone book to quickly find lists of businesses that fit into these categories.
There is hope and a way forward! While prospecting can be a challenging process for the uniformed, accomplished salespeople have tools to expedite that process. In almost the same time it takes to read this blog, I could for example: A) Develop of list of 20 businesses with a list of the characteristics I choose. B) Map the perfect driving route to economize drive time. C) Have a personalized letter addressed to each prospect with unique facts and questions about their industry. D) Be equipped to explain how my product will meet their needs, and E) Walk out the door en route to deliver the letter (with a gift of course).
These three tools will streamline your B2B prospecting:
1. Reference USA* – Once you arrive at Reference USA, you have the option to select between new or existing businesses. Most subscriptions to Reference USA will also offer an alternate healthcare database.
Once you have selected one of these choices, be sure to select custom search followed by the criteria you choose to limit your results. See video at the bottom of this page. Be sure to export your list into an excel spreadsheet with all the fields you want to know.
2. Batch Geo – Use this to quickly plot all your prospects on ONE Google map. It’s infinitely better than typing one address at a time into MapQuest.
Tip: Be sure to add the column descriptions for each field and paste the entire location section (address, city, state, zip) into the paste field.
3. First Research* – Simply select your industry, and read its overview. The call prep sheet is an extraordinary tool and the fastest way to get basic understanding about the business environment of any industry.
*Requires a library card – The power of information accessible online through your local library is stunning. I have linked these databases through the Tulsa library research center, but they are made widely available thanks to the U.S. department of education.
However I would NOT recommend taking this lightning fast approach to prospecting.
I have barely scratched the surface of prospecting! Most sellers have taken so long to get to this point (holding a mapped list of possible targets) they still have limited knowledge of each prospect! NOW begins the process of more refining and researching your prospects. This is where prospecting really begins!
Here are some tips for how to determine if one of your prospects is a good fit for you:
– View the detailed company descriptions on Reference USA.
– Find financial statements on Edgar (Publicly traded) Guidestar (Non-Profit) or MDDI (Local businesses – through your library).
– Evaluate your prospect’s website.
– Mystery shop from a customer’s perspective by going to their location, or picking up a phone and making a phone call.
In summary, I will leave you with this: Prospecting is a necessary process that is not impossibly tedious to the trained salesperson, and it begins (and not ends) with a list of qualified businesses that will ultimately match your description of the ideal clients. Having prospected & researched thoroughly, your sales efforts will likely be both more profitable and more successful.