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?



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?

Well, What Did You Expect? Part 2

Back to the question I wanted to ask you.  Have customers ever left your business needing to “vent” about unsatisfactory service or unmet expectations?  If you cannot answer this question with the knowledge that 100% of your customers are completely satisfied and you have met or exceeded their expectations, you may have some work to do.

The first step I recommend a business owner take in putting together their customer-satisfaction program is to implement a satisfaction system.  Moreover, within your customer-satisfaction system, develop processes that cover every aspect of your business that “touches” the consumer.

For example, an auto repair shop might put together a checklist of items they want to make sure are taken care of (like wiping down the interior and cleaning the inside of the driver’s door) before returning a car to the owner.  In addition, they may create and send a satisfaction survey as well as develop a process for getting to know and staying in touch with the customer.

With regard to my auto repair experience, that dealership will get no more money from me.  Thankfully, based on a referral from a satisfied customer, I found an independent repair shop that has a great system in place and uses processes that lead to customer satisfaction.  Not only will they continue to receive my business, but gain referrals as well. Their focus on customer satisfaction has become a competitive advantage for them. Can you say the same for your business?

Well, What Did You Expect?

In keeping with the “at least meeting and always trying to exceed customer expectations” theme, I would like to touch on the service aspect of the concept.  The following is a true story with which I am sure many of you can relate.

For the last few months, I have had to take my car into the dealership for work.  One would think that the dealer’s repair service would include some customer satisfaction elements.  In other words, I had some expectations of my service experience.

My first expectation was that my vehicle would be ready when they said it would. Of the six-plus visits, all but two resulted in the dealership, without warning, keeping my car overnight.

My second expectation was that they were going to fix the problem they identified. Multiple attempts failed to correct the problem.  OK, I do realize that vehicles today are much more complex than 20 years ago.  However, the last dealership diagnosis centered on replacing the engine computer because “that should fix everything.” (What? This was like telling me I needed a liver transplant because my cholesterol was elevated!)

The last expectation focused on the condition of my car when I picked it up. I expected that my car would be returned in a condition equal to or better than the condition in which it was dropped off.  However, my light-colored interior was routinely covered in grease smudges, dirty shoe marks on the bottom of the driver’s door, and other untidy infractions. This forced me to go back inside and ask my service tech to please wipe down the mess (for the umpteenth time!)

Thank you for letting me vent – my husband thanks you as well.

Now, let me ask you a question….

Part two coming soon.