The first step in the sales process is identifying who your perfect prospect is. After we have answered the fundamental questions about who the perfect prospect is we need to figure out how to find them. While the following list is not “all inclusive” it is a great starting point and once you identify where your prospects are hiding you can formulate a laser sharp marketing program to bring them out of hiding and into the open.
The very first thing to understand in prospecting is that a “warm referral” is so much more effective when added into the mix. In other words, use the following as a guide to identify prospects, but then if you can find a way to have someone introduce you your chances for success will increase 10-fold.
Associations. Many people belong to a professional association. It may be an industry association or it may be an occupational association like HR Professionals. Joining these organizations and attending their events is a great way to get to know the people you are looking for.
Trade/Business Journals. Every profession has their own trade publication Additionally your local Business Paper lists “people on the move” “companies that are expanding” When prospecting, a reference to seeing someone’s name in a publication is a great “ice breaker”.
Public Networking Functions. While these can be hit, or miss many organizations have sprung up around the country that are public networking events. Many are after business hours held at a local restaurant and their mission is to promote networking. While you won’t find the CEO’S of the Fortune 500 hanging out at these events depending on your product or service these events may be a great way to meet your next prospect.
Closed Networking Groups. Organizations like BNI and AMSPIRIT are excellent ways to network. These are closed groups and they cost money to join and to stay as a member. They do teach you how to network effectively, and are generally a good source for prospects. The drawback is if a group has a person from your industry or profession already you cannot join.
Open Networking Groups. Look around your community. There are plenty of open networking groups that operate under the spirit of helping the members with referrals. Your local Chamber of Commerce is a great place to start.
Public Speaking. There is no better way to find prospects than to become an “expert” on something in your profession. Many associations, trade organizations, networking groups etc are looking for speakers to come in and give educational talks on something of interest to their members. Seek these opportunities out. When done correctly one speaking engagement will lead to many more but each engagement puts you in front of many prospects who now view you as an expert and have a connection to you. Use evaluation forms to gather names and emails as well as feedback on your speech. Use the evaluation form to follow up.
Print Media. The yellow pages are still around. While most people use the internet, there are still lots of “prospects” advertising in the Yellow Pages. Newspapers are also a great way to keep up to date on local events and to look for your prospects advertising.
Cold Calling. If you enjoy this knock yourself out. Depending on your product or service Cold Calling may get you to the owner or decision maker in each business. For the most part though people do not like to be bothered with phone calls from people selling something or people dropping by. That was very effective 20 years ago. Not so much anymore.
Finding prospects has changed in recent years. If you want to be effective it is important you change your tactics with the current times. Keep this front and center above all else. Once you figure out who a good prospect is a referral from someone else will always help pave the way much more effectively.
About the Author
With more than three decades of experience in all facets of sales management, customer service, business growth, and staff coordination, Certified Business Coach Greg Emslie is a focused professional with the tools to help you grow and manage your business effectively.
Driven by his ability to implement proven business concepts and help improve teams, Greg affects all areas of the companies he works with, including sales, leadership, profitability, and decision-making. He focuses on improving efficiency and processes for his clients while helping them grow their revenue base.
Ready to begin finding other ways to make your company more productive? Let’s get the conversation started. Contact Greg Emslie for a business strategy discussion today!