Sales Best Practices, Part 1: Prospect and Engage

An effective sales strategy should be a priority of every business in a growth mode. With barriers of entry being lowered and immense competition, now more than ever, small businesses need an intense focus on sales.

Today I begin a three-part series on sales habits, best practices and simple solutions to eliminate growth challenges. For simplicity, I’ve broken the sales funnel into four stages: Prospect, Engage, Acquire, and Keep. Consider the following best practices for Prospect and Engage.

Prospect: Initiate Contact/Cold Call

  1. Create an action plan:  A prospecting action plan will focus your prospecting and create a log of actions and impacts. The plan will keep you fit and focused—helping you learn as you go to prospect better, smarter, and more efficiently. Effective plans are drafted and executed every month.
  2. Start every call with an objective: One of the worst things a sales professional can do is waste the prospect’s time. Without an objective, you will commit this crime. Determine in advance why you’re calling. Is it to set a meeting? Is it to request a demo? Knowing what you want to achieve when you make the call will help you get to the point fast and demonstrate that you respect your prospect.

Engage: Qualify, Question, Listen, and Understand

  1. Scour social media: Learn, Learn, Learn! Use social media to learn about the world of your prospects. Check to see what posts they like on Facebook. List the different twitter hashtags they’re using. Read the posts they share on LinkedIn. Use what you learn to qualify your prospects as legitimate targets, and eliminate those who don’t fit your target market.
  2. Go for the No: When you find yourself continuously waiting to hear back from a prospect, give them an out. Saying NO is hard for most people, including prospects. To avoid wasting time, give them an out. This takes pressure off of them and elevates your level of rapport with them for future conversations. Ask questions. During an interaction, ask questions to confirm your instinct that they are a qualified lead. Don’t ask contrived or rhetorical questions; ask genuine questions about their potential challenges or areas of need. And then when they answer, actually listen rather than mentally rehearsing your next line. Take into consideration how they respond, and allow the conversation to flow as it would between friends. Most likely, the conversation will not go exactly as you hope or envision. Rather than trying to pigeonhole the engagement into your preconceived expectations, seek to understand your prospect so that you can provide a legitimate solution to their problems. When people feel they are being heard and understood, they are more likely to trust you with their business.

Part 2 of this series will focus on Acquire and Keep. Happy selling!


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