When asked about the product that I most recently sold in a professional capacity, I couldn’t help but reminisce how exciting the sales process was for me. In graduate school, I took a course in sales strategy and was quick to put my learnings to use. Not surprisingly, I soon realized that being excellent at sales and relationship building has a learning curve to it, which everyone treads, either slowly or fast, depending on one’s capabilities. Inspired by my own experiences as a salesperson, I decided to jot down my thoughts on how to improve sales prospecting, with the hope that I might inspire other sales professionals as well. I have classified my knowledge of effective sales prospecting into 3 broad categories and discuss them below.
1. Becoming a Thought Leader
Imagine this scenario: Kylie Jenner lecturing Harvard graduate students on what it takes to become a billionaire at the age of 21. While Forbes may value her cosmetics brand at $900 million, one cannot expect the highlight of the journey to becoming a billionaire to consist of being a teen sensation, a socialite and enhancing her lips using lip fillers. Now, imagine another scenario: Tim ‘Apple’ Cook tweets about Apple’s health study and the Apple Watch 4 feature that notifies people of irregular heartbeats, hence claiming to save lives. It is highly likely that a number of people who are at risk will be influenced to buy the product. The difference in both scenarios is evident.
Similar logic applies to sales prospecting and engagement. By establishing oneself as a thought leader or subject matter expert in the industry, one can establish their credibility and trust even before reaching out to new prospects. Establishing authority is one of the key components to getting a prospective client interested in listening about what you have to offer. By following the below mentioned simple steps, one can get started on the path to becoming a thought leader.
- Starting a blog
- Writing guest articles for industry publications
- Speaking at trade shows and conferences
- Posting regularly and being seen on social media channels including LinkedIn, Angel.co, Reddit, and Quora; engaging in conversations and answering questions
- Connecting with people who do not know about you
2. Being Consistent and Implicit
In this game of being imaginative with scenarios, let us think of yet another scenario:
You are walking down the 24th Street in Noe Valley in San Francisco and out of nowhere, a hawker starts talking to you about how great the product he has is and that you will benefit from it greatly if you buy it. Now imagine some of your knee jerk reactions: “Sorry, not interested” or “No, thank you!”, if you are a polite person and “Silence” or “Please do not bother me”, if you are having a bad day.
Salespeople, when making cold calls, are kind of like the street hawker. No matter how great the product is, if one starts selling too quickly, it puts an undue pressure on the prospect, rendering them anxious as to how to respond to the sales pitch. Putting oneself out there with the right information at the right time and right place and letting the prospects take time to assimilate information and ask questions is the way to go. Sales is now all about “show, don’t sell” and “listen, don’t sell”.
Our brain, just like the arms of the clock, is constantly running but tends to slow down and must be revitalized. What it means in reference to sales prospecting is that by setting aside a set time and energy to prospect each and every day, results can be significantly improved. Notions such as “Thursdays are the best day to prospect” or “my prospects are only open to taking my calls every
Monday and Friday” are misleading. The ideal way to approach prospecting is to write a weekly plan that includes time to prospect each and every day.
Another important factor to ensure consistency in efforts is keeping distractions at bay. Meditation has been a proven method to train attention and awareness and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. Some of us are night owls, while others experience high levels of productivity at 6 am. And of course, there are innumerable permutations and combinations for the rest of us. Extrapolating the same idea to sales engagement, it is evident that there is no cookie-cutter solution that fits all. Some salespeople benefit more from cold calling, while others prefer emails. However, to improve sales prospecting effectiveness, it is inevitable to use all the arrows in one’s quiver. If one is great at cold calling, one should focus on it. However, that doesn’t mean that email marketing, inbound marketing, networking, trade shows, conferences, direct mail, social networking, or referrals should never be used. Moderation is the key here.
The real test of perseverance is when, even after using the best sales prospecting strategy, the answer is NO. An important thing to keep in mind then is that all relations – personal or professional – are built over time. Consistent and unrelenting pursuit of your clients is part of a longer-term plan for success, not a race to get the most immediate “yes”.
All relations – personal or professional – are built over time. The consistent and unrelenting pursuit of new clients is part of a longer-term plan for success. The key to a closed won is creating a WOW factor. Using an Omni nurture sales prospecting platform can help you achieve just that. –Piyush Gupta
3. Don’t Just Nurture but Omni-Nurture Your Relationships
In one of my classes during graduate school, I had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Glenn Gonzales, then the Northeast Regional Sales Manager USA at Honda Aircraft Company. I was in charge of receiving Mr. Gonzales at the parking lot, helping set up the presentation, presenting a thank you note and escorting him back to his car. I was so impressed with his professional experience and charismatic personality that I made sure I sent a thank you note to him later on, mentioning about a specific thing from his advice that I remembered and greatly appreciated. I also connected with him on LinkedIn and made sure that I keep him up to date on my graduate school projects and study trips. I also reached out seeking career advice. One day I got an email stating that Mr. Gonzales has been impressed with my continuous engagement with him and would like to talk to me about an interesting role in a company he is starting with his business partner. The gist of the story is that when one is on the path to becoming a thought leader, their calls, thank you cards, letters, white papers, surveys, studies, newspaper and web clippings – all the constant attempts to find a way to create some value for potential prospects add up over time and eventually result in a closed-won. Additionally, one must not forget to personalize or tailor these experiences according to the needs and demands of the prospects. The reason this approach is successful is that it demonstrates that the salesperson will not disappear; that they are truly interested in and committed to working with the prospect; that they are a professional who is determined and executes well.
Wondering how you too can make your engagement omnichannel and your relationships omni nurture? Check out ClosedWon’s sales enablement automation platform that allows Omni sequencing outreach.
Launching a private beta solution on September 19, 2019, on Product Hunt and a founding team from yelp.com, pinterest.com & workday.com, ClosedWon® has automated more than 100,000 prospects that led to 300+ opportunities and generated $10m of annual sustainable revenue for clients like Rakuten Inc. Croissant, and Yoshi Inc. ClosedWon®’s vision is to end missed connections, for Enterprise B2B SaaS. The platform humanizes business engagements with its omnichannel relationship technology. It is designed to efficiently convert data into meaningful conversations that ultimately win advocates. It empowers business people with breakthrough software including data enrichment, email verification, phone & social validation, and augmented sales coaching and content strategy.