“There’s gold in them thar hills!” bellowed M.F.Stephenson from the town square, trying to dissuade miners from leaving by claiming the hills of Georgia still had enough gold for everyone.
Was there? Well, it’s complicated and it did send me on a Wikipedia wild goose chase for over an hour, all because I wanted some flavor text about the history of prospecting.
So it turns out that prospectors, even the old time-iest ones, didn’t just pick up a pickaxe, find a spot and start digging. Not if they wanted to actually find them thar gold.
For the successful prospectors, there were soil tests, and research, and a whole lot of prep involved.
Remarkable how similar to sales prospecting it is, right?
In our world, the phone may have replaced the pickaxe, but the fundamentals haven’t changed.
The simple definition of sales prospecting is the act of finding new leads - hopefully leads that will turn to customers. This is done via phone calls, emails, personal networking, events etc.
However, behind that simple definition lies a lot of questions. Does the prospect actually need your product or service? Does the prospect have the budget for it? What is their track record as a buyer?
These questions help you figure out who your most promising prospects are, and thus, who you should spend the most time nurturing. Get this wrong, and you would be wasting quite a bit of time - causing what could be a substantial leak in the revenue pipeline.
So what do you do to ensure that when you start making those calls and sending out those emails, your effort won’t be wasted? Well, here’s what..
Step 1: Research
Step 2: Research
Step 3: You guessed it, more research
Seriously, we can’t stress this enough - good prospecting is all about prioritization - and that’s possible only through research. What do we mean by that?.
1) Look at their recent job posts. Are they hiring for any particular role or department? They probably are planning an expansion there.
2) Did they recently raise a new round of funding? They would probably need help scaling their operations.
3) Subscribe to your prospects blogs. Skim them and try to find pain points.
4) Look at posts from their top executives on LinkedIn. Do these posts tell a story or speak of a specific need?
5) If it’s a public company, its latest financial statement will tell you their priorities.
6) Google them. Do they have a history of investment in scaling?
Prospecting is critically important to filling your pipeline, which is why top sellers spend about six hours every week doing just that. So do your research, find the best prospects and shoot that email or make that call.
After all, there’s gold to mine, and you know just where to strike.
TL;DR - Sales prospecting is the art of finding the next person to call or email. The quality of your prospecting, however, will decide whether you hit gold, or dirt.