You turn prospects into customers by talking with them, so get on the phone.
8 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Prospecting is the one thing you need to do each day if you are serious about increasing your income. You need to make room on your calendar for it and make it a priority. Don’t depend on the economy. Most people are so dependent on the economy that they don’t have an economy. Make personal visits and be producing referrals, prospects and opportunities.
I want to introduce you today to different prospecting activities, in no particular order, that you can be involved with to jack your income levels to greater heights.
1.The warm call.
These are the people you are familiar with. You know them, you know them by name, you feel good about them. Call them up and see if they might need your product or service. At the very least, you can ask them if they know anybody who would be interested.
2. Sold customers.
This can be warm or cold, anyone and everyone you’ve ever sold before. If you’re new to the company it might be a short list, and if you’ve been there awhile it should be long. You might have to use a spread sheet or a CRM. Don’t spend too much time organizing and planning. Just make a list of them regardless of how long ago they bought, or even what they bought.
Think about past employers you have worked for and the people you sold to there. Maybe you worked in a completely different field but had a great client. They should go on your sold list. You can fill in the details with emails and phone numbers later, just get names.
3. Converting the unsold
You’ve waited on them but were unable to sell. Make a list, a file for everyone you’ve touched but not sold. Start with yesterday—who didn’t you sell? How about last month? Last year? Put your attention on all the prospects out there. There are so many people you can be talking to. Opportunity is everywhere. Figure out who and where they are, and how you can get in contact with them.
4. Currently doing business with.
I can’t believe how few people go and get money from people who they give money to. Make a list of people you do business with. They are obligated to you. The laundry mat where you get your clothes cleaned, the bank you have, the mortgage broker who did the loan on your house, the real estate agent who sold the house to you, your life insurance agent, car insurance agent, your stock broker, your grocery bagger, your UPS guy, the guy who did your kitchen — all these are just a short list of the potential people you do business with.
Pull out a credit card statement and look at where you are already spending money. These are people you do business with. Call the CEO of these businesses and tell them how good of a client you are.
5. Businesses using your products.
The next list you need to make are people using your product but haven’t bought from you. List businesses within a 10-mile radius of your company who have a use for your product. These are all potential customers for you.
6. Lost or unsold customers of the company.
I want you to hunt the unicorns. Build a file of all the big deals that your company was focused on at some point but never closed. Somebody long ago invested a lot of energy into trying to make it work but gave up on it. Sit down with your management team and get a list of all the people your company has failed to close. They are still prospects.
7. Power base
These are friends, family and past relationships. This is a little different than warm call, because this might be an uncle that you haven’t seen in years. You need to make a list of your power base. It’s very simple. Who’s in your power base Number one is your family. Think about you and then the people closest to you. First, immediate family, then extended family, next are friends — anyone who you consider a friend now, yesterday or three months ago. Neighbors are next. Who are your immediate neighbors? Maybe even past neighbors. Then your community, who’s in it? The PTA, your kid’s school — who belongs to that thing you call your community? What church do you go to? That’s community. Don’t move on until you make a list of your power base.
8. Service type
You want to take your tiny, quarter-inch hose pipeline and blow it up to be a fire hose. Who is doing service with you? Who comes to you saying this or that doesn’t work, or that they don’t know how something works?
Some of these people will have bought from you, but some will be people who haven’t. Maybe you sell watches and a guy comes in for a new band. You should be showing him a new watch as well. They are using your company for repair, customer service, problems and questions. How many of these people do you meet each day? If you’re not hearing from these people directly, sit with the “service” manager and ask to get the list of everybody who has ever come in for repairs, warranty work, questions or problems. This is a potentiall big list salespeople overlook. They think they are selling people coming to buy, but missing everyone who comes for service.
You need to connect up with your service department and work to get lists and contacts generating so you don’t miss future sale opportunities.
9. Your competition's customers.
Go after your competition. You want to grab market share from them. Make a list of your competition. Who are they doing business with? If you have to buy a list, then buy a list. Who are the decision makers on that list? Who do you know that can help you get in those places?
Start targeting your competition now.
10. Orphan owners.
Do you know what an orphan owner is? They are people who have been sold in your company but nobody is servicing that file any longer. Your company probably has clients who from years ago but nobody is taking care of them today. They aren’t getting contacted, no birthday cards, nothing. They are owners without a mommy or daddy. You are now the mommy and daddy. You are going to adopt the orphan owner and take care of them.
Get a list of everyone who has ever done business in your company that no longer has a representative taking care of them.
11. Cold calls
These are people you’ve never met. This is a difficult call to make but if you have a good script it can win you a lot of new customers. There are billions of people on the planet and most have never heard of you. Get known, make contact and pitch your product or service. If you really want to grow and expand your business, if you ever want to get rich, you will need to make, and master, cold calls.
12. Social media
This is a giant prospecting machine with billions of people sitting in a funnel waiting for you to get their attention. Ten or 15 years ago I couldn’t imagine a tool like this. LinkedIn and Facebook are a great gift for all who know how to use them because it will bring you massive amounts of potential leads and new revenue.
These are just some of the ways you can begin prospecting today. I guarantee you that you can do prospecting better because I know I can be doing better. There is great opportunity out there for those willing to put in the work. It’s the prospector who eventually finds the gold. The revenue may not come immediately, but keep digging and you’ll hit pay dirt sooner or later.