The Twelve Elements of a Successful Prospecting Plan
© The Gulas Group 2010
Recession, depression, slow economy - it doesn't matter what excuse you make or call it, it all boils down to "Besieged Buyer Syndrome." This condition will manifest itself in a stalled opportunity. Sales executives and sales people realize that stalls are for horses, not for selling! "Besieged Buyer Syndrome" occurs because a time-starved buyer is overwhelmed, withdrawn, uncertain, distracted, and is on RAM overload. All of this results in too much to do and not enough time to get it all done.
They could work 24 hours a day, seven day a week, 365 days a year and still not get it all done. All of the sudden you show up to offer them your fantastic product or service. Guess what? They don't want to talk to you. And if you're like the 82% of sales people who can't differentiate their offerings, you end up as another productivity pirate, stealing away their most precious resource: time. All of this results in what most in our business call knee-jerk statements from those besieged buyers, such as: We're happy with our current vendor; it's not in the budget; I'm busy, call me later; just send some information; not interested; or how does it work?
In today's selling environment, you're faced with road blocks due to buyer's mindsets created from unconscious thoughts that say "if it ain't broke don't fix it" and "let's just survive this by not spending and cutting back." In addition, their unconscious minds are thinking that they should only maintain the status quo and only buy the perceived safe choice. Their mindset is one of "it's all the same, so buy the lowest price but highest quality." It's a bit unfair to send those 20th century sales people into this arena armed with only features and benefits. Unfortunately, that's what is being done each and every day even in these challenging economic times.
Those enlightened sales executives that have changed with the times are now hiring and developing sales talent that have the correct selling mindset. The correct selling mindset means the sales person or executive has mastered the twenty one sales competencies and their respective behaviors. For example, "Need for Approval" is no longer a hidden sales weakness, and behaviors such as asking the tough questions, going for a no, bringing things to closure, and getting personal needs met outside of their sales role is being consistently executed. By mastering these behaviors under the various competencies, the sales person can now successfully execute a solutions-based consultative sales plan.
A vital component of a successful sales plan is the prospecting plan. A sales plan without a well thought out prospecting plan is as bad as a great prospecting plan without a sales plan. One must consistently execute both parts of the equation. The prospecting plan begins by constructing goals and dreams that are tracked each day via sales automation. The dream has to intrinsically motivate the sales person and must be shared with whoever will hold them accountable on a daily basis. In addition, the sales leader must conduct individual daily, weekly, and monthly pipeline and strategy meetings focused on each individual sales person's intrinsic motivators and progress toward their dreams and goals.
Each sales prospecting plan includes some of the following elements:
1. Suspect list of 300 targeted opportunities based on your company's perfect prospect profile
2. Top 100 suspects for outreaching to include referrals and introductions where possible
3. Use of the internet for research and introductions
4. Compelling reasons to buy based on business drivers from each respective industry and market you will be outreaching to
5. A successful script to use when outreaching that includes pattern interrupts and advanced judo questioning so you don't get trapped with knee jerk reactions
6. A research template used to find relevant discussion points for your outreach to assist in developing bonding and rapport rapidly
7. An "Objections Notebook" to use when necessary
8. A breakdown of how your organization's offering can add value by increasing revenue, decreasing costs, and improving asset allocation. A crash course on the fundamentals of reading an income statement needs to be included in this step
9. Accountability to the sales automation tool is imperative so any development courses and policies with repercussions must be explained and consistently upheld by the executive team
10. Construct a minimum daily outreach number and monitor it daily
11. Track the amount of introductions and referrals your prospecting plan generates
12. A method to track relevant news from your suspect organizations that may trigger a timing opportunity to contact relevant staff
Bringing all the elements of the prospecting plan together is the foundation of a consultative / solution sales model. Using these 12 elements of a prospecting plan creates a huge advantage over the traditional salesperson stuck in the features and benefits, spray and pray, smile and dial model. This sales plan uses the power of the internet as an advantage for the salesperson in terms of research and social networking. Now when one outreaches to a suspect, they are armed with relevant data and you prove value by linking it directly to their business drivers. By focusing on mastering the 12 elements of a prospecting plan, one truly will work smarter, not harder. Now, when outreaching to a suspect with the intent to make them a prospect, you will have the necessary ammunition to win despite a slow economy. In future articles I will explore each of the elements in detail that are necessary in constructing a winning prospecting plan for the 21st century.
Ted Gulas, President of the Gulas Group, specializes in the development of "Human Capital", by guiding individuals, teams and organizations to their goals. Since 1989 Ted's organization is focused in three areas for results; assessments, workload/time planning and sales development. Grade you sales team today visit the Gulas Group