What Is Prospecting?
Throughout this ebook, you’ll be getting some techniques, tools, and advice on how to be successful at prospecting as part of your sales process. But what exactly do we mean by prospecting? We mean the act of researching, contacting, and beginning conversations with potential customers. Without prospecting, there would be no sales profession.
When you are doing prospecting well, you are helping a customer to solve a problem, access a new area of business, or become more efficient by matching the customer’s needs with a product or service that you offer. Yet some people have a negative attitude when it comes to prospecting in sales. They are concerned that they will be wasting time, that they will be perceived as a nuisance, or that they simply won’t get the results that they were hoping for. But by following the advice in this ebook, you can learn to view prospecting as an opportunity rather than a chore.
The Four Myths of Sales Prospecting
Now that we’ve talked a bit about what prospecting is, let’s talk about what it is not. You have probably heard or thought the myths listed below about prospecting. But when you are performing prospecting as part of your professional sales process, you will see that these myths are just that – myths. They are not accurate descriptions of what true sales prospecting involves.
- Myth 1: Prospecting is sales – prospecting is not sales. It is the first step in the sales process, certainly, but it is not the sales step itself. Prospecting is the act of locating customers that can benefit from the value that your product or service creates for them. The actual selling doesn’t start until after you’ve identified, or qualified, someone as a viable prospect – and it may not even occur at the same time as your initial contact.
- Myth 2: Prospecting is a numbers game – this is a long-standing myth that is held by people who don’t understand how to prospect properly. Anyone who is a sales professional and understands how to prospect will tell you that quality is what matters – not quantity. You won’t be dialing numbers at random when you prospect professionally – you’ll be contacting well-researched organizations that you believe are likely to need what you have to offer.
- Myth 3: Prospecting takes too much time. What takes more time – doing the research up front to make sure that you are only contacting people who are likely to be glad to hear from you, or contacting people randomly and hoping that some percentage of them pan out? Sure, prospecting takes time. But it saves time in the long run – not to mention saving you frustration and energy as well!
- Myth 4: Prospecting is too hard. Why is prospecting ever perceived as being hard? Because of the attitude that we tend to have towards it. You’ll learn that prospecting done well is done from the attitude and position that you have something of value to offer in terms of the knowledge, expertise, products, and services that you are offering.
The Role of Prospecting in the Sales Process
As we begin to examine the role of prospecting in sales, let’s take a look at the basic sales process. Before a person becomes a customer, and hopefully a repeat customer, they must first be a prospect. You will always have more prospects than customers, since not every person you contact will see the benefit in the product or service you are offering. Figure 1 shows the basic development of a prospect in the sales process.
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