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Common Questions and Answers
Your business, like every other one, needs a constant stream of new customers if it is going to remain viable. The constant churn in the market place means that some of your customers will be acquired and others will go out of business.
Which brings us to the need for prospecting. As you know, “prospecting” refers to the front end of the sales process. It is the necessary process of identifying companies and institutions who could buy your products, and then arranging a first appointment with them. As with every other stage of the sales process, there are ways to do this better than others. In today’s economy, it is not just about identifying a prospect, it is about identifying a prospect that is likely to buy. The quality of this first step can be a key determinant in your long-term success, as it will keep you focused on those who are most likely to buy. The more information you can obtain about a prospect, and the closer you bring him/her to doing business with you in the early stages of the relationship, the further ahead you are.
Step One: Buy a list. This is so simple and so obvious, yet I’m amazed at how relatively few people do this. Study your best current customers and develop a profile of what they look like. How many employees? What SIC codes? Any geographical demographics? Who are their customers? Once you have a profile in place, go to the Internet or the yellow pages and look up “mailing list brokers.” Call two or three, tell them what you are looking for and ask them to quote you for the count and cost for a list that includes the name, address, phone number and employee size of the businesses that meet your criteria. For anywhere from $.20 – $1.50 per name, you can obtain a list of those companies who look the most like your good customers. That’s a great way to start.
Step Two: Offer an “enticer” for sale to your prospect list. An enticer is an offer for something they are probably currently buying which is such a good offer that they can’t refuse. For example, if a certain type of imprinted pen is going for $.55 each, offer them a one-time purchase at $.25. Yes, I know that you’ll lose money on the deal. But I also know that if someone takes you up on it, you will have moved the sales process considerably forward. You will be on their computer vendor list, you will have a reason to call on them, and they will be predisposed to spending some time with you. In other words, you will have lost a little money and gained a customer for it. Think of it as buying a customer. How much is one worth? The few dollars you lose on an initial order is a bargain.
Apply this simple two-step process and in a matter of a few weeks, you’ll have a handful of high-potential prospects who are open to doing business with you.
About the author
Dave Kahle has trained tens of thousands of B2B salespeople and sales managers to be more effective in the 21st Century economy. He’s authored nine books, and presented in 47 states and seven countries.