Prospecting is a process of sifting through many leads until you find one that fits your criteria. As such, prospecting is a discarding activity.
Think of the 49er’s back in the California Gold Rush days. Those miners sifted through a lot of gravel in the Sierra Nevada mountain streambeds looking for a small fleck or nugget of gold. There were a lot of little rocks discarded in their search for one good “nugget” that would make their efforts worthwhile. Truly, prospecting is a discarding activity. You won’t find the nugget unless you go through the “gravel.”
Remember the 49er’s when you’re prospecting. Everyone you talk to is a “suspect,” but they don’t become a prospect until you qualify them. You have to know what you’re looking for. After all, if you know what you’re looking for, you have a much better chance of finding it.
And when you’re referral prospecting, being able to describe to a potential referral source what your ideal prospect looks like removes all the guesswork on their part. Without a specific focus, most requests for referrals wind up with, “Let me see if I can think of someone and I’ll call you.” You know from experience that people seldom call you back with a referral after they’ve made that comment to you.
Big Picture: What companies in your market are likely to have the kinds of problems you solve, and who in those companies has the responsibility for solving those problems? That’s your ideal prospect.
Here are some ideas about what to include.
- Description: (ex. an owner of a small to medium sized business who has a sales force; VP of Sales for a larger company)
- Typical Pains: (ex. who is frustrated with excessive turnover; not making his/her sales goals, etc.)
- Mindset: (ex. who is open minded about training; deadly serious about growing the business)
- Geographic area: (ex. located in …)
- Products & Services: (ex. is used to going outside the company for sales training)
- Profit/Purchase Potential: (might have a budget of $ ______ for training)
Being able to describe your ideal prospect will help you focus more effectively on your overall prospecting efforts and pay big dividends for you.
Self-Study Assignment: If you haven’t already done so, take a few minutes to write down a description of your ideal prospect. Check with your manager to insure you are both in agreement.