The First Rule of High-Octane Prospecting: Prepare
My colleague, Joe, writes as much business as any of our peers, if not more. His sales goals expand each year, even though he’s already a top performer. Megalomania, you might think. But Joe doesn’t want the world. He just knows that the more he practices prospecting the better he and his figures get. So he practices constantly.
The best networkers (and the busiest) have an internal prospecting monitor that never turns off. Many enjoy their lives and families as much as anyone else, but taking care of the day’s prospecting tasks is as automatic as brushing their teeth.
In The Sales Bible, one of my favorite books, Jeffrey Gitomer asserts, “The key to consistent sales performance is to have a great Monday.” So, how do you set up a great Monday? You work like hell on Friday to make it happen.
Yes, making sales is part of the greatness. But the key to it all is PREPARATION. Selling requires planning and the ability to maintain a frame of mind that helps you execute on your plan.
- Systematically prospecting for, setting and confirming appointments
- Regular sharpening of sales skills through quality training materials
- Setting specific goals for each day’s number of appointments and holding yourself accountable for reaching them
Note that these directives have nothing to do with doing your job (you already know how to do that) or with making sales. This supports two points:
- Prospecting doesn’t set up your job. It is your job.
- Success hinges on staying accountable daily.
Sales success is a state of mind. And, yes, you do have to prepare in order to maintain that mindset—and for the numbers to break your way.
Friday is the make-or-break day for those getting into sound prospecting shape. Scheduling appointments at week’s end ensures that you’re primed and ready when you come back to your desk on Monday.
Of course, that leaves you with plenty of work to do during the week. How should you spend that time (besides working hard)? How should you not?
Consider these do’s and don’ts:
No cold calls. Ever. Cold calls probably turned you off to prospecting in the first place. They’re also pointless. No one gets anywhere talking to a machine.
Block your ID and keep calling prospects until you hear their voice. You need to engage with people and make them feel something: confidence, enthusiasm or even a little paranoia (just don’t rely on that). Machines feel nothing.
Don’t sell. Build a relationship. Every time you’re talking to someone live, you can connect and build trust. Rather than sell, listen for clues about what the person wants to buy; then you can sell.
List your best techniques for getting through to a prospect on the first try. Do you have questions to ask? Stories to tell?
Assess your habits. Is procrastination your weakness? Afraid of that first phone conversation? Heels dragging as you walk into networking events (if you get there at all)?
Find your weak spot. It’s the difference between staying in the prospecting mindset and not. There’s not enough space here to explore motivational tools, but a general principle applies: fear is conquered in small steps. Make sure that every time you follow through you take credit.
Doing one scary thing a day, to paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt, takes the routine out of showing up. And that, of course, is the fast track to establishing a beneficial routine.
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