Prospecting for new business. Love it or hate it, it’s something that must be done consistently or you just might find yourself with a very empty sales pipeline.
It’s a rare company that can sit back and be totally reactive in their business development. Getting the lion’s share of your business through referrals is terrific but what happens if your referrals dry up? If your main referral source retires? Or moves? Or meets a competitor that steals your referrals away?
Not a pretty picture is it?
Anything can happen and simply doing great work is not enough to keep the doors open. So yes, “consistent” prospecting must be part of the business picture.
Why consistent? Isn’t it enough to have a few big prospecting blitzes and just call it a day? Mmm, probably not because unless those prospecting blitzes are sufficient to fill your sales pipeline for many months ahead, and then beyond, it is a better strategy to maintain an ongoing prospecting program. Sure you might do more active prospecting at different points of the year but consistency is the key to success.
“Peaks and valleys” can be the death knell for business and I am referring to those points in time when business is booming out of control and then those other times when there is nary a piece of revenue to be found. The key to success is to keep sales as steady as possible and the best way to do that is, you guessed it, consistent prospecting.
And yes, it can be very challenging especially if you are a solopreneur and are tasked with developing business as well as actually executing the work as well. It’s somewhat simpler to be a business developer without any sort of requirement to actually do the work too. Prospect, close it and then move on your way. But prospect, sell it and then actually do it, that’s another story and a much more difficult one to execute.
So what’s the key to consistent prospecting? Here are a few sales prospecting tips to help you avoid an empty sales funnel:
Break your prospecting efforts into small, bite-sized pieces. Schedule one hour per day to do proactive outreach. Make 5 prospecting calls, send emails (but not to the exclusion of making calls!), contact several dormant accounts as well as reconnect with prospects that rejected your proposal for business at some earlier point in time.
Consider using an e-newsletter to stay visible and top of mind. Make certain that your newsletter is interesting and valuable and isn’t filled with self-serving sales propaganda.
Continue to network throughout your busy periods. There are a myriad of networking opportunities that occur at every point of day and evening so something should be able to fit into your calendar.
Direct mail is back! Send 5-10 “snail” mail letters per week to introduce your firm and the products and/or services that you provide. Follow-up your letters with a phone call and if you absolutely don’t have time to do any follow-up consider hiring an outsourced telephone lead generator to do the calls for you.
At the end of the day the most important thing for you to do is to recognize just how important prospecting is. It is the lifeblood and foundation of every business and to avoid it is to risk diminished revenues.