Understanding Prospecting

Understanding Prospecting

I have a question for you, “What is a prospect? “
A prospect is a “likely customer.”  The dictionary cites a “likely customer” as “a customer who may be interested in buying something.”

Hey – that is great!  I am sure there are many, many “prospects” out there who may be interested in buying something from you.  Now all you have to do is find them.

The “finding them” part is what causes most business owners and salespeople the greatest amount of headache.  Why?  Prospecting is time-consuming, there is more rejection than acceptance and, for most of us, and it is just not fun.

So how do you prospect for potential buyers without burning through a lot of time, get to the ones that are most interested in what you are selling and possibly have a bit of fun doing it?  Check out the next blog post for answers!

Qualify Them
The very best way to prospect is to identify Qualified Prospects.

What is a qualified prospect?
Great!  I’m sure you answered that question with no problem.  Just to make sure, the answer is below:


A qualified prospect is someone who:

  1. 1. Has a need for your product or service
  2. 2. Is the decision maker
  3. 3. Has the resources to purchase your product or service

There are many ways to identify qualified prospects.  Some of the ways are general and will work for most businesses and other ways are distinctive for your type of business.

For example, if you own and operate a small-business coaching firm, a qualified prospect would be identified as someone who:

  1. Owns and operates a small business
  2. Is tired of “putting out fires” all the time
  3. Has no time to work “on” their business
  4. Needs advice and assistance with employee issues
  5. Wants to grow their business to the next level
  6. Etc.

With the above information in mind, who or what types of people or businesses would be qualified prospects for YOUR business?

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Qualified Referrals

Qualified Referrals

In my last blog post, I indicated that I wanted to build a referral-based business.  How would you feel if 50-90% of your business came from qualified referrals?  Let us explore that…

When someone tells you that a business they know needs your services, that opinion is a tip and NOT a referral, let alone a qualified one.   A person who passes this type of information to you may think they are doing you a favor, but they are actually creating MORE work for you.

Why?  Because if you make a connection at that business, you will feel compelled to explain it was your friend who said that his/her business needs your services.  Let’s play that out:

“Hi, my name is Jennifer Howard and I am a business coach.  My friend and yours, Susan Smith, said that you really stink at running your business and could use a business coach.  So here I am!”

OK – I would not really walk into a business and say that.  However – I get that kind of “referral” all the time.  Actually, what I am being passed is a tip.  It is truly less work for me to build a networking relationship with someone and gain one qualified referral than 10 tips!

Therefore, what is a referral?

A referral is a solid recommendation of your product

or service to someone else.

The result of a referral is an opportunity to present

your product or service to the person whom you were referred

A qualified referral is one in which the person referring you

has “certified” that the person they are referring you to:

  1. 1. Has a need for your product or service
  2. 2. Is the decision maker
  3. 3. Has the money to pay for your merchandise or service

Would you rather have one qualified referral than 10 tips?  Why?

Sales and Selling – The Importance of Connecting

Sales and Selling – The Importance of Connecting

When I first moved to Edmond, OK and decided to begin a business, I knew that the first thing I needed to do was to meet people.  I was blessed to have a great neighbor (who is also a fantastic real estate agent) who wanted to introduce me to people.  Every time an opportunity came along to meet someone she knew, I jumped on it.

The next thing I did was join the Chamber of Commerce.  Now, I am not an extrovert by nature, meaning that being in large groups of people and extending my hand in blind greeting is not something I am good at naturally.  However – I knew that in order to build the kind of referral-based business I wanted, I needed to start sticking out that hand as often as possible.

Armed with the will to “network and connect”, I:

  • Went to Business-After-Hours
  • Joined committees and volunteered to do something
  • Offered to speak to groups on topics in which I was well versed
  • Developed connections with business owners and bank presidents
  • Asked people if I could buy them a cup of coffee to spend time learning about them and their business
  • Attended “speed dating”-type events for networking
  • Joined two other Chambers
  • Sat on boards of directors
  • And the best thing I did was join a networking and referral group

How are you currently “connecting” in your community?

Do you need to make some changes to your method of connecting?  What would you change and how?

Sales Confidence & Attitude

Through my study, I came across a great truth:  sales failure can be directly tied in to our ego.  A particular writer expounded that those with too much ego (personal pride) take rejection personally – as does the person with a fragile ego (lack of confidence).  The person who has a healthy ego that accepts rejection as part of the sales process and does not take it personally – realizing that HE/SHE is not being rejected the product is – will always “win” at sales.

What is your sales attitude right now?  Take the short quiz below and assess yourself:

  1. 1. How do you feel about selling your product – right now – today
  2. 2. What makes you feel this way?
  3. 3. Do you compare yourself to others who sell?
    1. a. What do they have (or do not have) that you do?
    2. 4. Gauge your confidence level from 1-10  (1 = poor, 10 = outstanding) in the following areas:
      1. a. Personal appearance and image _______
      2. b. Your handshake ______
      3. c. Ability to get people to notice you ________
      4. d. Speaking and presentation ability ________
      5. e. People like me ________
      6. f. I get along with most anyone ________
      7. g. I can cold call ________
      8. h. I am good at developing relationships ________
      9. i. When I am doing my job, I feel good about myself ________
      10. 5. Do you 100% understand the product you are selling?
      11. 6. Why should someone buy it?
      12. 7. Do you 100% believe in the product you are selling?  Why?
      13. 8. Do you have a true passion for selling your product?  Why?
      14. 9. Do you sell out of necessity, challenge or both?  Explain
      15. 10. What do you like best about selling?
      16. 11. What do you like least (or is your greatest challenge) in selling?

Take a long moment and look over your answers.  If you honestly believe that you are a great salesperson and love what you do – you are in a small minority. If, though, you are selling more out of a need and do not have a supercharged-passion for sales, ask yourself if you have an interest into looking for ways to “grow” that passion.  Most great salespeople are “made” – not born.

Your sales attitude is one of the most important aspects of the sales process as it is what drives your sales confidence.  You can learn to love (or at least like) sales and be an exceptionally effective sales person.

Qualified Referrals

When someone tells you that such and such a business needs your services that tip is NOT a referral, let alone a qualified one.  A person who passes this type of information to you may think they are doing you a favor, but they are actually creating MORE work for you.

Why?  Because if you make a connection at that business, you will feel compelled to explain it was your friend who said that his/her business needs your services.  Let us play that out:

“Hi, my name is Jennifer Howard and I am a business coach.  My friend and yours, Susan Smith, said that you really stink at running your business and could use a business coach.  So here I am!”

OK – I would not really walk into a business and say that.  However – I get that kind of “referral” all the time.  Actually, what I am being passed is a tip.  It is truly less work for me to build a networking relationship with someone and gain one qualified referral than 10 tips!

Therefore, what is a referral?

A referral is a solid recommendation of your product

or service to someone else.

The result of a referral is an opportunity to present

your product or service to the person whom you were referred

A qualified referral is one in which the person referring you

has “certified” that the person they are referring you to:

  1. 1. Has a need for your product or service
  2. 2. Is the decision maker
  3. 3. Has the money to pay for your merchandise or service

Would you rather have one qualified referral than 10 tips?  Why?

Be a Giver, First

There is a chance that you are not receiving all the referrals and recommendations you want because you do not give first.  One of the most, personally, irritating things a person can say to me is, “Thanks, I owe you one.”  When I hear this, I quickly remark, “You do not owe me because I do not keep score.”

Almost from the beginning of time, people have kept score of what favor is owed them and how many favors they owe others.  I believe this is a harmful way to do business.  I do not have time to keep a score sheet on referrals I give and I do not ever want to be in someone’s “debt” for a referral.

With the above in mind, the solution that works for me is to give without keeping score.  In fact, giving to someone else without the weight of keeping count is extremely freeing and feels great!  When you give freely, it opens the door for someone to give back to you with an unburdened conscience.  So my motto is give, give, give.

In the Long Run…

When you give without needing a “get”, you will always gain.  In the long run, your unaccounted giving of referrals may lead to incredible business referral gain for yourself.

Strategic Business Partners

Do you and your business have Strategic Business Partners (SBP’s)?  SBP’s are different from Business Alliances.  A Business Alliance is a person with whom you may or may not do business, but have some sort of connection to in your business community.  A Strategic Business Partner is someone with whom you do business, whom you would heartily recommend and refer to others and who would recommend or refer to you with the same enthusiasm.

You may have hundreds of Business Alliances, but only a handful of Strategic Business Partners (SBP’s).  For example, as a business coach, my SBP’s consist of the following business types:

  • Business Attorney
  • Business Accountant
  • Sales Training Consultant
  • Web Design company owner
  • Commercial Cleaning Business owner
  • Workshop Trainer and Coach
  • Advertising Design Firm owner
  • Marketing Firm owner
  • Insurance agents
  • IT Company
  • Etc.

My SBP’s are other business owners to whom I can refer my business clients who are in need of their service.  In turn, my SBP’s are some of my best sources of referrals and recommendations.  I am very knowledgeable about their services and they are about mine.  I trust my SBP’s and they trust me.  In the past, I have had to fire a couple of SBP’s because they did not treat right someone I sent to them for assistance.  My SBP’s are very important to me and to the health and well-being of my business.  Think of creating a great team of Strategic Business Partners for your own business – and don’t delay!

Market It!

Marketing Tip For TodaySend Thank-You notes and hand-written cards

This is a very personal and memorable way to stay in front of someone.  Send notes to people you meet who made a strong impression on you, could be a potential business alliance or strategic business partner or even someone who you would like to help grow their business.  You may also consider belonging to a service like Send Out Cards, or the like.  The key here is to do it within a few days of meeting/meeting with someone to have the greatest impact.

Marketing Tip For the Next DayOffer to speak to groups for free

This is a terrific way to gain exposure while giving an audience a taste of what your business is about or in what area you specialize.

  • Make sure that the groups that you speak to (unless it is purely public service) contain potential clients and/or decision makers.
  • Offer to moderate a panel or event.
  • Lead discussion groups or a committee to get exposure to speaking to smaller groups before you speak to larger ones.

More tips to come.  Now get out there and Market yourself!

Market It!

While advertising is a great way to “get your name out there”, it is generally a more impersonal way to connect with your potential clients.  Marketing, on the other hand, is personal and generally involves some form of personal contact.  I am going to share many different ways to market your business that cost virtually nothing (but time!)

Great Marketing Tip for today – Always, always, always, carry business cards

About 40% of the professionals I run into either do not have a business card with them, have run out, etc.  Business cards are necessary for effective marketing.  Depending on the type of business you are in, you may consider putting your photograph on your business card.  People will be able to “put the face with the name” when they look at your card several weeks or months after meeting you.  Additionally, people are less likely to throw away something with someone’s face on it.

Understanding Your Audience (Part 4)

Okay, it’s been a month since my last post – so let’s get caught up.  We have been talking about marketing to the right audience especially when it comes to the generation in which they belong.  Ask yourself the following questions:

1.       Which generation(s) is your target market?

2.       Why are they your target market?

3.       How does your generation “find” you?

4.       How do you find them?

Never assume that “everyone” is your audience and never assume that you can reach everyone in the same way.  There are many, many ways to market and we will have fun exploring them over the next several weeks!