Essay written for my Sales class – August 2014
The article that chosen for the prospecting essay was written by Larry Prevost who is a Dale Carnegie Instructor and what he terms a “Social Media Evangelist.” The title of the article is called “30 Tips for Creative Sales Prospecting.” It is a basic article however he makes valid points on why salespersons are not successful and what to do to get back on track or take a “different direction.” (Prevost, 2008)
In this article, Prevost states that sales people have constant issues with “finding a stream of incoming potential customers to talk with.” This is true in the fact that business sales are not going to fall in ones lap. An individual needs to be prospecting all the time to keep the sales funnel operating. A sales funnel (pipeline) is a “trust-based sales process” in which at the top of the funnel is very wide where “sales opportunities exist.” (Ingram, 2008) Once the leads start down through the funnel, leads that are not good opportunities are weeded out and taken out of the funnel.
What is important to remember is this: the more leads that are weeded out of the funnel, the narrower the funnel becomes. Hence, prospecting (a large part of the job) while selling is key to sales individuals. In the article, Prevost states that some sales individuals “fall into a rut.” Why? It is based on the persons own behavior. (Prevost, 2008) Salespersons have been known to “fall back on comfortable behavior.” (Prevost, 2008) If it works, why fix it? That mentality could be lost dollars in their own wallets.
With that in mind, here are some interesting tips that Prevost gives that could give a person to get out of that “rut” and challenge themselves to do more. Starting with item number two: “Give a talk or presentation at a networking event, a conference, local service organization or industry meeting. Have plenty of business cards on hand for distribution, and raffle off a prize at the end of the event to collect business cards from the audience.” (Prevost, 2008) This idea is great to get the sales representatives name out in the field of their interest. Any event would give great leads by those who choose to enter the raffle, by calling them either that day or the next following day and introducing themselves and brand or service in which they are offering.
Another great idea by Prevost is to “attend and participate in local seminars, workshops, and networking events. In today’s environment, there are quite a few online networking events that offer participants the opportunity to share information in joint chat rooms.” (Prevost, 2008) Although chat rooms have gone to the wayside to social media, the use of Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter on the Internet is a great way to share your products and to find out where the next local seminar and workshop will be to attend. Prevost shares the tip of “establishing yourself as a local or online resource.” (Prevost, 2008) This is in the same social media category as discussed, however establishing a blog to share industry information and to become the “source” in the local community is a great idea and does not cost any prospecting expenses.
Business announcements whether in a business journal, newspaper or online is another way to generate leads. Prevost mentions to “read the paper and look for promotions, press releases new product announcements, awards etc. Write congratulatory notes or send a relevant current article with a personal note.” (Prevost, 2008) This is an excellent idea and salespersons do not utilize this enough. A personal note has gone to the wayside due to e-mails, tweets and texts. When sending that personal note, it shows that the salesperson took their time and effort to send a congratulatory note and people remember that. It is important to follow up with that note by contacting that person within a reasonable amount of time to do a formal introduction.
These last two tips is for the new salesperson who has not done a cold call in their life. That first call can be scary and if the person is on the other line says “no,” well that is a bit defeating. Tip number one would be: Do the research. Make sure that the salesperson is familiar with the product or service. If the salesperson does not know a certain aspect of the company, research it. Odds are, a customer is going to ask that question. Tip number two: “develop compelling cold calling scripts to introduce yourself, get an appointment, leave a voicemail, overcome objections, get through the gatekeeper or ask for the referral.” (Prevost, 2008) If the salesperson does not know where to begin, ask a veteran salesperson in the office. Ask them what works for them. See if the company has a mentorship program or a trainer to help the salesperson creating their own scripts. Practice the scripts until there is a comfort level, because ultimately the salesperson will develop their own style and practice makes perfect.
In closing, it does not matter if a salesperson is just starting out in sales or is a veteran in the company. At one time or another, getting into a rut can happen. The key is to be able to recognize when it is happening and to seek out new ways of prospecting so that the salespersons business is successful and ever growing. These tips and other mentionable ones in Prevost’s article are worth reviewing and contemplating. Happy Selling!