Prospecting to find leads

Success in prospecting requires a systematic process of locating potential customers which includes:

  1. Increasing the number of prospects
  2. Improving the quality of prospects
  3. Shortening the sales cycle by qualifying prospects

The goal of prospecting is to build a prospect base, a list of current and potential customers.

There are several sources of prospects. To name a few you can gain new prospects through:

  • referrals from past customers
  • LinkedIn lists of target audience
  • advertising or writing in publications
  • exhibiting or attending trade shows
  • cold calling
  • sending out sales letters or emails
  • leads from your website
  • marketing to databases
  • networking

With so many sources of prospects it’s important to identify the top-3 ways of consistently reaching a large number of your ideal target customer so you can maximize your impact and avoid spreading yourself too thin.

Here’s a trick I recommend, focus 80% of your efforts based on what has worked for you in the past, 10% on what your competitors are doing and 10% on what no-one in your industry is doing.

Why You Need 3 Ways of Generating Leads
Why three ways? To avoid putting all of your eggs in one basket with just one way and to avoid spreading yourself too thin in time and money with more than three ways. Sticking to your top three ways of consistently reaching a large number of your ideal target customers is manageable and will keep you focused.

Why consistently? Because anything other than being consistent doesn’t work. If you are thinking that you can hit the jackpot with a one-off advertisement in a newspaper or magazine, you need to think again. Spending thousands of dollars on that type of strategy will almost guarantee you a negative return on your investment. And there is nothing less effective than attending a networking event, making some good contacts and not returning the following month and the month after that. Your audience needs to see you as consistent and credible before it can trust your message.

Why large number? Because you’ll need to reach lots of prospects in order to achieve your income goals. Consider using Facebook and publishing a blog or an online newsletter as ways of reaching a large number of customers.

Measuring results
With the top three things you are doing to reach your ideal target customers, be sure to measure the results.

Keep track of how many e-mail messages you sent last week. Look at how many appointments you scheduled compared with how many prospecting e-mail messages you sent. Look at the number of appointments made divided by the number of sales made. Look at the number of e-mail messages sent and the amount of time it took you to send them. Look at the dollar amount in sales divided by the number of hours it took to send those e-mail messages.

Measure your results every step of the way.

By making these comparisons, you can see which are the most effective ways of getting customers. What should you be doing more of? What should you be doing less of? Look at the return on investment for each of  your prospecting activities. How many times did you gain exposure to your ideal audience? How much did each form of exposure cost you in terms of money and time? How many inquiries did you get as a result? How many presentations came out of those inquiries? How many sales came from those presentations?

Tracking allows you to measure the effectiveness of each of your prospecting activities.

There is no shortage of things that you can do to get in front of your ideal target customers. You just need to make a commitment to go after that group 100 per cent using your top three ways of reaching them.

About Tom Abbott

Tom Abbott is the author of 'The SOHO Solution' and 'Social Selling' and the creator of the online sales training platform SOCO Academy. Sales leaders engage Tom for his proven solutions to building high performance sales teams that exceed targets and for motivational keynotes that energise their audiences.

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