Prospecting is the hardest part of selling, everyone agrees. Even though there must be a million ways to prospect (or 23 ways), that still doesn’t make it any easier. It’s hard.
So instead of saying which is the best way to prospect, let’s deconstruct the meaning of prospecting to understand the destination better. With a clear destination, our path to get there will be easier to see among the million choices.
Get ready, here’s a definition packed with meaning and opportunity that we’ll break apart afterwards.
Prospecting is talking to people you don’t know, who will like you and trust you enough to exchange their time and money for your insights and offering.
Prospecting’s definition word by word
Maybe that seemed a little anticlimactic. But when deconstructed, it sets up an approach you can take to prospect more successfully.
Here’s the deconstruction, consider these concepts separately:
Talking to people you don’t know
This can be the scariest part of prospecting. You’re going to talk to strangers, despite your parents telling you not to.
People who will like you
These people are the prospects you will be most successful with. But you can’t tell who they are until you talk with them and give them a chance to like you.
People who trust you
There must be trust, or no sale. And the odds of prospects trusting you are very good if they like you too, see above.
Trust enough to exchange their time
Prospects must first give you their time before you can earn their trust, and then learn enough to help them.
Trust enough to exchange their money
This is the bigger trust requirement. And it’s the outcome you want. Though it’s not the purpose of your relationship, nor the process to get there.
For your insights
You provide value in the knowledge you bring to help customers fix their problems and make their improvements.
For your offering
This is the package in which you wrap your valuable insights to exchange for prospects’ time and money.
Thinking through the Deconstruction
In the deconstruction, it’s the questions that prompt you to find answers. And those answers will define your individual path to prospecting. A path that makes sense to you – not off-the-shelf tactics from a book.
Remember, it always starts with the questions first. So, here are a few:
- Which prospects should I be talking to? — consider using Target Profiles and your Sales Plan
- How will I know if prospects like me?
- How can I get prospects to like me?
- How can I quickly build trust with prospects?
- Where can I develop a relationship to earn their trust? — consider Inbound (Content) Marketing
- What do my prospects want help with? To fix common problems or make improvements?
- What should they be aware of that they might not be? Regulatory changes? Disruptive technology?
So start thinking. Do your research online. Find best practices, check out LinkedIn discussions. Answers to your questions, like the ones above, will provide you a direct and clear path to better prospecting.
You’ll see that it becomes a much more workable and manageable process than the emotional, fear-laden dragon that prospecting first appears to be. Good luck.