Call it what you want… lead generation, business development, canvassing, door to door, talking with referrals, follow up from a networking event, asking for referrals or even making the “Dreaded Cold Call”. You can disguise it anyway you want. You are prospecting!
The bottom line with any of these activities is that you are prospecting for new customers or new business from existing customers. There, I said it. Let me say it again. You are prospecting!
Prospects may come from a variety of sources that include your warm or natural market. You may also receive a steady flow of prospects from centers of influence, such as attorneys, doctors, accountants or VIPs in your community. What about referrals from clients or friends? You can even advertise or belong to associations and business networking groups. You may even receive prospects through social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter (compliance permitting).
Skeptics say that prospecting is dead. It’s not. And it never will be. The decision to prospect is yours alone.
True, the old way of selling is dead and gone forever, but prospecting continues to be the foundation of all successful businesses and salespeople. So what is prospecting?
Prospecting is defined as “in search of” or “to labor for”. What are we all searching for? We should be prospecting for (or searching for) new customers, or new business from our existing customers. It’s that simple.
Think about it for a minute. Let’s go back to the mid 1800's. Prospectors were in search of gold. When they found a gold nugget did they stop prospecting? No. They continued to search for more. What happened when the gold mine dried up? Did they stop searching? No. What did they do? They loaded up their tools, looked for another mine and began the process all over again. They continued to prospect. They did not give up.
Today prospecting is the art of putting new potential clients, or new business from existing customers into our sales pipeline. Since 1980 I have observed thousands of salespeople fail. The thing they all had in common is they stopped prospecting.
Question – If you had the cure for cancer, how many cancer patients would you approach each day? Of course you would approach as many as you could. Make sense?
Why then, do we stop prospecting? The simple answer is that it is hard work. We get lazy and complacent. After all, it's easier to check your voicemail or email isn't it? Voicemail can’t object, email doesn’t challenge our value. We get caught up in all the stuff that really doesn't matter. I love this quote from one of my favorite motivational speakers, Les Brown, “We give our distractions more attention than our destination.” How distracted are you, what’s your destination?
In closing: The following quote from Frank Bettger’s book “How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success Selling” says it straight out, “You can't make a sale, until you write some business; You can't write some business, until you have had a conversation; And you can't have a conversation until you make the call!” Are you ready to have more conversations, write more business, and make more sales? The decision is yours and yours alone.