Steps to making a successful prospect call
As a Regional Sales Manager for the East Region, I am asked from time to time, how do I direct our sales team to get new business and increase sales? There are a couple of ways to doing this. You can grow new business organically, meaning through existing channel and adding product categories, or you can knock on doors to find new business.
Personally, I like knocking on doors.
Don’t get me wrong, increasing our product portfolio within an existing channel is great and necessary to do, but going out and “hunting” for new business is very rewarding. It helps the company gain market shares, expand in areas and industries, and develops a new business partnership between the customer and Muncie Power Products.
Below are a few steps I have used and coached field sales managers to use when they are prospecting for new opportunities.
1. Research the companies
With today’s technology, we have many ways to find information out about a particular company, industry, and leadership team. Even the products they manufacture or sell, and even sometimes competitive products, would be good information to have on hand. The more information you can gather about the company, the better prepared you will be when you have your meetings with this prospect.
2. Call to schedule an appointment
Remember, you only have 30-seconds to introduce yourself and explain why you are calling—believe me, it’s longer then you think. Not only should you have a clear agenda on why you would like to meet, but also, have a day and time in mind prior to calling. It does not hurt to even have a back-up day and time, especially if you are going to be in area for more than a day.
If you get the person’s voicemail: just leave a simple message on who you are, the company you represent, and a phone number for them to call you back. In my experience, when I run into a voicemail situation, I will send an introduction email to the prospect as a follow up to the voicemail. I have found in recent years more prospects will respond to an email instead of calling back.
3. Meeting invite
After you have secured your meeting, send out a meeting invite. Within the body of the meeting invite have your agenda clearly stated.
4. Prior to arriving to the meeting
Make sure you are dress appropriate: your shirt is pressed and you are well groomed. Yes, I know this is common sense, but you’d be surprise how many times I have seen salespeople look like they just rolled out of bed five minutes before their meeting. Remember: Your first impression is vital when meeting a new prospect.
5. Day of the meeting
The golden rule in arriving to an appointment is to arrive 15 minutes early—anything less and you’re late. This rule was something I was taught when I was first starting out in sales by Richard Starks, my mentor. Take a few minutes to make sure you have your agenda written out and your product guide in hand. Make sure your attitude is in check as well. Always walk into the building with a smile and with confidence.
6. Making a connection
When meeting with the prospect and presenting your company and product always be listening to what the prospect is saying in regards to current supplier or any pain they might be or have recently experienced. The key to the meeting is not to sell the customer on your first meeting but to present who your company is, the products you manufacture or represent, and start building that 1-on-1 relationship with the prospect. Selling is 50% relationship, so this is key, and as Zig Ziglar said, “Selling is essentially a transference of feelings.” You can have the best widgets in the world, but if you do not come across as someone the prospect can see partnering or relating with, then your widgets do not mean anything to them. Work to find a common interest (e.g. sports, hobbies, so forth) to help create a connection.
7. Follow up with an email
Thank the prospect for their time. Address any next steps or action items and when you will be following up. Even if the prospect is happy with his current supplier and not looking to make any changes, always keep in contact with them.
The biggest challenge I hear when speaking with other salesmen is fear. Fear of rejection, fear of hearing about previous pain with your company, and the biggest fear of just the word “no.”
Remember: It’s not how many wins you have under your belt which determines success, but how many times have you been knocked down with “rejection” or even a “no,” and you keep getting up and moving forward to the next prospect.