One of the biggest obstacles that sales people are suddenly challenged with - is how to continue prospecting in a virtual world.
Traditionally, prospecting has included "drop-ins", "trade-shows", and "face to face" networking events to name a few.
With all of these activities essentially eliminated, some possibly forever - what new techniques must sales people develop to remain effective?
Prospecting's traditional objective is to identify future potential clients that have interest in or currently are purchasers of the type of products or services you provide. The goal was to qualify/disqualify the prospect by determining if there is a valid "opportunity" worth pursuing.
The reality is, prospecting efforts are just as much about our potential client "qualifying/disqualifying" us. After all, this is the buyer's journey - not the seller's journey.
When we change this perspective on prospecting, it remains a "hunt" for new opportunities. However, it's as much about the prospect familiarizing themselves with their options and deciding if you can provide the best value from the choices available.
So what are the 5 things sales people must learn how to do very well to continue "prospecting" in a virtual world and winning new clients?
Here are my 5 favorite prospecting tactics, in no particular order:
Build strong social networks with your ideal target market. It doesn't do you any good to have networks with just your friends, unless those friends are your ideal target market. LinkedIn is a great place to build your professional network - but you can do this on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter also. How many LinkedIn connections do you have with your target customers? Making these connections is a very good place to introduce yourself.
Create relationships with "Centers of Influence". Your best chance of making a relationship with a new client is likely to come by way of referral. "COIs" are typically like-minded business people selling different products and services to your target market. I like to focus my networking efforts on around 4-5 of these influential partners. With large gatherings on hold for now, your focus on intimate group meetings is key to your future networking success.
Post helpful/thoughtful content on social media. A social post is the virtual equivalent of the "drop-in" call. These can be blogs, vlogs, and post re-shares if you're just getting started. Keep in mind, your post can be as unwelcome as a boisterous visitor or can be appreciated as a box of chocolates. If your social post is more about you and less about you helping your prospect - you've probably missed the mark. Refrain from "look at me" content and establish a goal of your content being "learn from me". Your prospects will appreciate helpful content, and it will help them form an impression of the type of person you are....besides what's the value of having a large network if you don't show your face once in a while?
Schedule virtual "cups of coffee", "lunches", or "happy hours". Prospects were already resistant to meeting salespeople and now the challenge getting face to face has just escalated. Salespeople that embrace video meetings and phone conversations continue to engage prospects at a very high level. Try sending a box of Starbucks, have lunch delivered, or try shipping a nice bottle of wine with your invitation. Studies prove that people feel a sense of obligation to respond positively to acts of kindness.
Become "omnipresent". If you want to become an effective prospector, you need to be in as many places as your target audience. Not everyone is on LinkedIn, not everyone will respond to your emails, phone calls, or even social posts. Using handwritten notes may be the most effective way to connect with your target audience. Have you ever published a newsletter? What civic/social groups have you volunteered for or taken a leadership role with? These are fantastic ways of expanding your brand and building your network.
Remember, prospecting is just as much about your future client "qualifying" you as it is you qualifying them.
Good Selling Everybody!
Frank Niekamp, High Performance Sales Coach