Intentional Prospects

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Seeing What Sticks at Bubblegum Alley, Seattle

Some entrepreneurs have a great idea and know a market for their idea is out there, but when it comes time to sell their product or service, they are essentially “throwing it up against a wall to see what sticks.”  This is exacerbated by companies that are throwing their business concepts out to the world via the Internet and hoping their market finds them.

The Internet is, of course, a powerful sales channel.  The most effective companies can use highly targeted marketing campaigns to reach their most likely prospects rather than spending money to reach the entire Internet-using population.  They can tailor messages to offer promotions uniquely targeted to each prospect, such as the books they will want to read and the computer software that can help their business.  Unfortunately, not all small businesses are in a position to know their prospects so well, nor do they have the marketing dollars to spend on effective Internet marketing.

As a new or a small company, the world of prospects looms large and without much order.  How do you spend your time, money and energy focused on the right prospects?  And, how do you get to know them enough to get them to open their doors to you?

I have suggestion.  Build a prospect data base.  There are a wide variety of tools available to you, including simple or sophisticated CRM software, spreadsheet or data base software, and even legal pads and notebooks!  No matter your choice of technology, create that “data base.”  To do so, you’ll need to do three things.  First, find out who your prospects are.  Second, learn everything you need to know about them.  And third, prioritize them.  You and your sales reps only have so much time in a day – make the most of it!

Find Out Who The Are:

You can research prospects by looking online.  For example, do you want to sell to companies going through rapid changes?  Look at the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing, privately owned businesses.  They are growing so fast, their rate of change has to be breathtaking!  Select the ones that are the right size, in your geography, and/or in the right industry.  Get that list into your choice of technology.  Even if you just write them down on a legal pad (one page per prospect) and put them in a big three ring binder.

Learn Everything You Need to Know:

If you are selling computer services to companies on the Inc. 5000 list that cannot afford an IT department, start by searching for information about the companies on your list.  Look at their websites, read the news about them, find out how many employees they have, who the executives are and where they came from.  You may know someone there or find a golden opportunity for your products.  If you get the chance to talk to them, you will want to be prepared! Remember that networking and socializing with your community helps you build your database of information, too!   A remarkably bright veteran I know has kept a notebook with every business card he has collected over the years, and with each card he keeps information about where they met, areas of common interest, etc.  He has a remarkable prospect database already!

Prioritize Them:

A great system for prioritizing them is the ABC/123 method.  First look down the list and label them A, B, and C in terms of their near term likelihood of needing your service.  For example, if you are a construction contractor and your prospects are commercial construction companies, use what you find out from your research on each company to label them A for “Won a Big Project,” B for “Bidding on a Big Project.” and C for “No immediate New Projects.”  Next, go through the list and label them 1, 2, 3.  Your “1s” are those where you have contacts and know you can get a meeting.  The “2s” are those where you might be able to meet someone there through your other contacts.  Finally, “3s” are the cold contacts.   At the end of this process, you have top priorities, or A1s, all the way through bottom priorities, or C3s.

Next, spend your time selling to the top priorities, and remember to update the database every time you have contact with them.  Notations about their employees, projects, strategies, and plans will help you update their priority and help you close the deals!

Good prospecting and all the best!



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