Rethinking Prospecting


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Prospecting is critical to our success as sales people. We need to find new customers, we search for people who want to buy our products and services.

We constantly conduct prospecting campaigns–email programs about what we do, endless phone calls:

“May I speak to the person in charge of copier purchases?”

“I’m in your area next week, can I spend a few minutes talking about your employee benefit programs?”

“Who is responsible for your financial management systems?”

Email program after email program. Hundreds of phone calls. If we’ve lucky, a few percent respond, “OK, send me some information,” “I have a few minutes next Tuesday, but don’t give me a sales pitch.”

And for those few that respond, we desperately try to qualify them so that we have an opportunity.

It gets tougher all the time. More competition, people too busy to meet with us, people just don’t want to talk to a sales person. We contact everyone we can. We cast a wider net. We buy lists. We send out more emails, make more calls.

We try to find more people who want to buy our products and services. It’s hard to find people interested in our products and services. It’s difficult to find people who want to hear what we do and who we are.

What if we changed the way we prospect?

What if instead of searching for people who want to buy our products and services, we decided to search for people with problems? Not just any problem, but the problems we solve?

Our whole approach to prospecting would have to change. Rather than talking about what we do, we would be forced to discover what the prospect does. We would have to talk to them about their business.

We might do some research before we called, looking for people who have the problems we solve. We eliminate people who don’t seem to have the problems we solve. We’d focus our time on the people who appear to have those problems.

They may not know they have a problem, so we have to learn about their business, their dreams, their goals. We would have to learn about how they are performing against those goals, whether there are gaps, whether they are happy with what they are achieving or want to do more. We may have to help them discover the problem and decide to do something about it.

Or we’d look to helping them discover new opportunities, we’d approach them with Insight. We’d help them discover the opportunities, we’d help them get decide, “We need to do something about this.”

They may not know how to define their problem. They may not know how to organize their team to determine alternative solutions to their problem. But we can help them through that.

People love talking about themselves and their businesses. They want to share their accomplishments, ambitions, and goals. They want to share what’s standing in the way of them achieving their goals. They want ideas to help them improve. They want to learn how to grow.

Prospecting for customers with problems is a lot easer than prospecting for customers who want to buy our products and services.

The really cool thing is that once we find a customer with problems we can solve, and who have a sense of urgency about solving those problems; 100% of them are interested in our products and services.

So who are your prospecting targets?

Are you looking for customers who want to buy your products and services, or are you looking for people who have the problems you solve?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


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