Your Prospecting Resources
Last week we discussed the importance of having a rolling three month prospecting plan. You might be tempted to jump right in and start your plan, but we've found it's helpful to first take a look at your resources. Having your resources in place will allow your prospecting plan to come together with ease and ensure that it is implemented and consistent.
- Create a list of Prospecting Ideas - Prospecting does not have to be boring! Begin by putting together a list of all the prospecting ideas your business has done in the past or that you've heard of other businesses using. We've actually pulled together a list of ideas from previous newsletters that can be downloaded here. Use this list to cycle through ideas and discuss what might be done.
Make sure you add to the list. The objective is to have a list of ideas that your team can use to brainstorm ideas for prospecting. This is a list that should grow with time, including a history of what you've tried, what worked and what didn't work. Challenge your team and assign them to bring one new idea to the table every quarter.
- Pull Together Community Activity Calendars - Prospecting is all about getting in front of your target market. In order to do this, you need to know where your prospects are in the community. Create a list of online calendars that list events that are also targeted toward your ideal prospect. This ongoing task can be split between staff members or assigned to one person who will pull together a list of events for the next month on your rolling three.
The list should be brought to your prospecting meeting and each event is either assigned to the appropriate staff member and scheduled or dismissed from the list if it's not a fit. Ideas for calendars that should be looked at include, but should not be limited to: Holidays that Impact Your Market, Chamber of Commerce Calendars, Newspaper or News Channel Calendars, Recreational League Calendars, School Calendars, and Festival or Local Calendars including charitable fund raisers.
- Know PTO and Out of the Office schedules - Consistently be looking ahead and have a firm grasp on who will be out of the office both on PTO and company trainings, conferences, or trips. Looking at the availability of staff will help determine capacity. Sometimes in a small company, prospecting can be as consistent week in and out as there are some events that will pull your team away from prospecting such as trade shows, trainings, and personal time. In many small businesses you and your staff fill multiple roles so having one or a few employees out can cause the needs of the business to change. When you know about and plan for the imbalance, your overall goals are easier to reach without the frantic pace. We like to call this an intentional imbalance. Having a gut feeling or not watching this at all can easily put your business into catch up mode.
- Know Your Ratios - Speaking of capacity, in order to truly be proactive in prospecting you need to know your numbers as a company and for each member of your team. You've heard it before, sales is a numbers game. Sure, there are many ways you can positively impact the numbers game, but you will always need to collect a certain number of "No's", "Maybe's", and "Not Right Now" in order to get to the "Yes" and reach your sales goals.
If you know your numbers you can influence them to be better. How many people do you need to talk to this week? This day? If your team can't answer this for the company and individually then how can you expect them to deliver?
- Use Your Calendar - Open your calendar right now. How much time in your company is devoted to prospecting? How much time should be dedicated to prospecting? Often time calendars are used to schedule appointments. This allows the mindset that prospecting isn't as important as other aspects of your business, which means it will get pushed aside. Your calendar represents your capacity. You should know the capacity for the business as whole and individual team members.
Using your calendar consists of two points. First, you need to discuss and schedule time to prospect. Sometimes this starts with research. Other times it should include calling, emailing, or even attending networking events. If it's not on your calendar it will be missed. Secondly, you should schedule a meeting to create your prospecting plan. This meeting should be viewed as important as a meeting with one of your most important clients otherwise it will be easy to miss or postpone it.
- Hot List - Last, but not least, everyone involved in prospecting should meet regularly and bring a list of prospects they are working on or view as warm leads. These may be leads they are working on or target markets they have identified that can be passed along to other team members. Having such a list gives you an awareness of your sales funnel and ensures that team members come prepared to discuss their prospecting activities.
Seem like a lot of resources? Chances are you probably have and use some of these resources already, perhaps just not in a manner as organized as we've described. We're challenging your team to pause for a moment and gather your resources and ensure they are ready to go. Once they are gathered you can discuss how you will keep them updated as you ramp up your prospecting. This small pause to organize and formalize your process will have a huge impact on activity and as a result, your bottom line.