As a sales professional I always found it more productive to initiate informed conversations with my prospects vs. making tons of calls hoping to get a hit, i.e., someone who happened to be in the market for “xxx…” I made fewer dials but had a significantly higher qualified appointment rate.
But this post isn’t about sales per se. It’s about the type of prospecting that is thoughtful, probing, prospect-focused and directed at finding common ground. It’s about finding opportunity and gaining better understanding of where the product or service will fit within the prospects toolkit…if it fits at all. I call it Investigative Prospecting.
To analogize from targeted direct marketing, Investigative Prospecting is a process aimed at defining and segmenting the prospect audience to find the right business benefit to deliver to the right audience at the right time. As a New Markets Catalyst, I’ve investigated prospects to ascertain not only the size and scale of my clients’ target markets but also to test the viability of new product or service concepts – element by element – to shape their configuration and positioning. But always by first understanding their business challenges and shaping the conversation accordingly.
So, what makes Prospecting Investigative? My 6 Keys:
- Prospects want to know what’s in it for them – how will speaking with you improve their day/their job?
- It’s always more productive to listen than to speak – you’ve heard the phrase “two ears, one mouth?”
- Demonstrate your knowledge of their business – don’t borrow their watch to tell them the time
- Look for opportunities – is there an interest, a need for your product or service or any part of it?
- Prospects (pretty much everyone) love to edit – ask for their reactions to your features and benefits
- Remain conversational – keep it interesting – respect their time!
Use these keys to enrich your conversations whether you are a sales professional, an entrepreneur or a market researcher. Both you and your prospect will enjoy it!
Best, Ann McCartan, New Markets Catalyst
Let me know what you think by leaving a comment.