Prospecting is the cornerstone of successful selling. No, it is not closing. To close, there must first be a prospect…however, closing is the ultimate activity for making the sale.
No, your sales job is not as overwhelming as you make it out to be. “What with doing reports, calling, replying to emails, prospecting, attending meetings, et cetera?“, you counter. Well, as this column has averred, the progressive sales person has only three activities: customer facing, computer facing and ‘air’-facing. The average seller busies herself with the latter two: browsing the Internet and travelling (not merely moving) from one sales meeting to another and then laments her lacklustre performance. Today, I want to dwell on the customer facing activities that get you closer to making the sale.
Prospecting is the cornerstone of selling
Prospecting is the cornerstone of successful selling. No, it is not closing. To close, there must first be a prospect. A prospect is one who has the need and means to buy your product or service. All others are suspects. Successful prospecting starts with qualifying suspects and ends with asking for a referral- who is a qualified prospect. Meaning, that prospecting never ends and accelerated prospecting is done via referrals, and referrals are in turn most effectively obtained in customer facing activities. The alternative is to spend time computer- and air-facing in the name of prospecting. Not that you can’t get a prospect on, say, LinkedIn or, the streets, you can. The problem is that you will have that bit higher an uphill task knowing what prospect to look for and qualifying him, compared to if you has just asked an existing buyer to, “Please refer me to two other Finance Directors in competing companies who would benefit from our services.”
Qualify your prospects
Next, it’s good to have a qualified prospect. But the girl you met last week didn’t give you her number for you to sit on or brag to your boys, “I got her number.” So what?! Call her! Likewise, qualified prospects are there to be reached out to and presented to. Not merely to fill up sales reports with, to impress the boss. And this takes us back to prospecting via referrals; doing so allows you the benefit of asking your customer to, “Please call him up and let him know I’ll be calling on him (or, if you can send me over)”. This way, you skip calling and introducing yourself (activities which could build a wall) and you proceed to presenting because a bridge has already been laid out for you. Irrespective of the source of the qualified prospect though, in the game of numbers that selling is, numerous presentations are a cornerstone of getting closer to making the sale.
Closing is the ultimate activity for making the sale. The importance of an effective presentation cannot be gainsaid. But continually buying the gal coffee without telling her what you want will only get you ‘friend-zoned’. Just like the girl, the buyer won’t tell you to ‘close’-he’ll just send signals. When he does, attempt an alternative close; “Would you prefer delivery today or tomorrow?” or, an assumptive one, “Please sign here”.
Busy yourself in favour of these three customer facing activities and watch your sales soar.
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