I had to develop a plan to take this list and make it manageable, otherwise I would be overwhelmed. And an overwhelmed sales person faces the prospect of inertia. So over the next several years I developed several key steps I took whenever we looked at a group of suspects.
- Look over the entire list to get yourself familiar with the companies that are on the list. Look for size of company, geographic location clusters, products they sell, size of store/restaurant, type of real estate.
- Determine which of the suspects are currently using your competitor’s services. Remember, these suspects have already determined they need your type of service or product, they just did not choose you. While your best prospect for a sale is your current customer, your second best prospect is your competitor’s clients. Does this make them easier to convert to your service or product or more difficult based on past experience? How long have they been with your competitor? If you are selling a service have they been there long enough to be both dissatisfied and their contract nearing the end. Is there a pattern developed that helps you determine the characteristics that are best responding to your competitor’s offerings?
- Who do you know working at each of these suspects? You can use LinkedIn for part of this exercise, but I have found the best way is to use your Rolodex. Yes, I know it is old fashion. However, I have found that looking at my business cards helps me trigger knowledge that I have about the contacts that simply is not in any data base I have ever created.
- Which of the companies are growing and which are shrinking? I have found, unlike many of my contemporaries, that shrinking companies may be more responsive than growing companies. The egos of these companies are in check and they are looking for answers. In growing companies, you have to be able to answer a different question. “Why should I disrupt my current success to add your product or service to my formula?”
- Finally, I think about the amount of time I want to allocate to this new list. I tend to get excited about “new” so if I don’t set a particular amount of time I will forget about my current business and throw myself into this new unproven opportunity. Be cautions but be aggressive.
Finally, sit down with your sales manager and get buy in of your plan. Listen and be open to suggestions you may be given. But, don’t be afraid to defend the plan you have developed. If you have been thoughtful about your plan, share it with the person hired to listen to you. When you both agree to the plan, get to work. Along the way you should analyze your results and correct your course if necessary.
If you are having a difficult time getting into a prospect you think is a must see, look for different methods to break the door down. An interesting new company in that field is Axcelora (www.axcelora.com). They use individual personal relationships to make personal appointments. There are also companies that use professional telemarketers like Sales Roads (www.salesroads.com ) and I even found one that used actors. Leverage your LinkedIn network. Take the time to learn the best practices of LinkedIn, it will be well worth your while.
But most importantly, create the plan, write the plan down on paper, and post the results of the plan to yourself and your leadership team. Oh yeah, enjoy the success.