The Do’s and Don’ts of Prospecting

Devon-McDonald by

This is a part of a series that was cre­at­ed to help you get the prac­tice of out­bound prospect­ing built into your com­pany.  This series will walk through the process, nec­es­sary roles, in addi­tion to guides for each role to help your com­pany get started quickly.  In the next few posts, I’ll be releasing the contents of a quick start guide for Business Development Representatives to use to attain success during this process.

To Do's

Do’s

Do recognize that even when you hear “no,” you still gain valuable insight that can help you refine your approach. Think of cold calling as informal market research. It’s a powerful way to learn about who your best prospects are and how they think. Listen to what people say and put that to work.

Do be brief. It’s hard enough to get someone to take your call and listen beyond a few seconds. The last thing you want to do is launch into a lengthy, convoluted message. Get to the point. Skip the “how-are-you” lead-ins that sound insincere anyway. Prospects appreciate directness. State your purpose, what’s in it for the customer, and your request (a meeting, for example), in as few sentences as possible.

Do be positive and prepared. Know who you’re calling and what you plan to say. Trust is missing in every cold call. If prospects can ask questions and receive answers, you’ll build trust.

Do be “real” — be yourself. Nobody likes a canned, robotic message. Especially in a business-to-business, or service-type business where you’re looking to build long-term relationships, you’ll benefit by being authentic.

Do carefully craft your message. Being “authentic” doesn’t mean shooting from the hip. You still want to prepare a message that sounds interesting and natural. Avoid industry buzzwords, jargon, and clichés. Well-chosen words make prospects more comfortable.

Do leave a brief, but detailed message if you get voice mail. Give your name and number, then say why you’ve called, and repeat your name and number.

DON’Ts

Don’t be rigid. Each person is different, and the conversation might take turns. Be prepared to ask more questions and adjust your message to the situation.

Don’t forget that it’s all about what’s right for the customer, and not just about making the sale. Tailor your approach and let them know you are OK with it if they decline, if that’s what’s best for them.

Don’t focus on the “close.” Sure, you want to get a meeting or make a sale, but what you’re really after is the truth of where the prospect stands, so make it easy for them to tell you.

Don’t try to counter all objections. That’s likely to generate resistance. Instead, dig a little deeper to find out what’s really behind the objection.

Don’t hang up without suggesting some type of follow-up — another call, a meeting or something.

Don’t take it personally. Prospects who say no — and there will be many — aren’t rejecting you personally. They are just saying the product or service is not a good fit for them right now. Move on. Somewhere out there are customers who will say yes.

Next week, I’ll touch on what to realistically expect when making the first call.