Is your sales manager breathing down your neck? VC’s not returning your calls? Having trouble finding a job? The anxiety of these situations can create a perception of limited options, especially during a recession. But, troubled times are when you have to create your own luck and minimize your dependency on the typical and the standard. Everyone is doing the same thing, so how do you stand-out, shine and pave your way to gold? Prospecting!
Prospecting is the act of defining your market opportunities and gathering pertinent information for qualifying them.
Without prospecting you can find yourself knocking on the same doors as everyone else, soliciting friends for referrals, and staying “too” close with your current clients. All of this can have the opposite effect that you had initially planned.
Prospecting creates hope. Hope creates options. Options create confidence. Confidence increases the probability of success and attainment of your goal. Imagine that others are going around in circles with the same clients and not prospecting. But you’re out there gathering 500 new targeted and qualified prospects—VC contacts, job openings, or sales leads. Can you see how you have put yourself ahead of the pack? Can you see that by effectively prospecting you’ve seriously laid the foundation for success and separated yourself from the rest?
Robin Bohbot, Founder and CEO of Your Sales Leads, Inc. of Dallas, Texas, and also a leading authority on new business creation, states that, “Every company has competitors in the marketplace—and those competitors are targeting the same customer base. While keeping current customers is critical, it’s just as important to always be expanding your client base.” Bohbot adds that, “Cold calling and outbound telemarketing is one of the most effective ways to generate new business—the ultimate result is a pipeline of opportunities established for your organization.”
During challenging times it is common practice for companies to reduce marketing budgets and either wait for things to turn around or simply focus on customer retention. Ms. Bohbot disagrees. She says, “Now is the time to invest in prospecting and marketing efforts. Now is the time to get ahead of those competitors who are cutting back on those budget lines. Now is the opportunity to gain a greater market share.”
A vital part of prospecting is your attitude. If you view prospecting as a bothersome task then the quality and amount of leads generated will suffer. But, if you go into it with excitement and enthusiasm, knowing that every new prospect is an opportunity that will open new doors, you’ll ensure success.
“Based on many variables like time constraints, daily moods, budget challenges and even life at home, a ‘no’ today is not necessarily a ‘no’ tomorrow when dealing with prospects,” says Walter DeVenne, V.P. of Partner Relations for AListLocal.com, “so, stay persistent.” DeVenne adds, “In this economic climate anyone reaching for your prospects’ time or wallet is your competition, regardless of the nature of their offering. No matter how confident you are about what you are providing, it truly is a privilege to be allowed a prospects time, now more than ever. Respect their time, be persistent and maintain good rapport.”
Do your research online, by reading industry trade magazines, or by attending networking events. This will enable you to discover more job openings, add to your VC listings, and multiply your industry prospects.
When asked why he felt he was successful, hockey great Wayne Gretzky replied, “I find myself going where the puck is going to go and not where the puck already is.”
This is a great analogy for sales people today: Go where the puck is going, and get away from where it is.
The founder and CEO of Alistlocal.com, Steve Rayner has an extensive background in all phases of early-stage ventures and corporate strategies. He has been a sales consultant for various Fortune 500 companies.