Build a Prospecting Plan in Seven Steps

Michele Warg
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A prospecting plan involves making a concerted effort to continue the conversation with your sales leads. This strategy does not close deals, but your plan has the potential to keep leads talking to your sales team for longer periods of time so you develop a rapport with potential customers on your way to fulfilling sales goals. If you fall short of your numbers of high-quality leads, consider this seven-step strategy for improving your prospects.

1. Divide and Conquer

A prospecting plan divides your leads into types and needs. The types indicate the industry or department in which your lead has success. The need reveals what your prospect needs the most from your company's products or services. For example, one prospect's need may include trying to gain more market share in an existing area, while another seeks to grow more revenue across all channels.

2. Make a Timeline

Create a timeline for your prospecting plan once you divide your prospects into types and needs. Have one member of your sales team focus on one particular industry during an entire month, and then switch the industry at the end of the month. The one-month period gives your salesperson time to develop expertise with one specific aspect of your market.

3. Set Expectations

Set reasonable expectations and sales goals within the team. Rather than have a lofty accomplishment of turning a qualified lead into a sale, attempt to get one piece of information from the lead that becomes a talking point for a later discussion. Your prospecting plan needs incremental steps that climb up to the sale. Remember, a sale doesn't happen within the first one or two points of contact. During your first encounter with a prospect, gain some information to extend the conversation for another time.

4. Write Down Questions

Create 10 questions for every type of prospect you might encounter. Open-ended questions keep your leads talking so you get even more knowledge about how your company solves their problems. Consider questions regarding the reasons for buying or not buying, someone's gut feelings on a deal and comparing offers against those of your competitors.

5. Keep Talking

Don't fall into the trap of "just send me some more information." Respond to this statement with the fact that you want to have a conversation to understand the prospect's needs.

6. Look Big and Small

Have enough time in your prospecting plan to allow for quick sales from small companies and more complicated sales from larger companies. The smaller companies motivate your team because of successful sales, but larger businesses need more work. Devote time to both to develop expertise.

7. Make a Prospecting Plan a Priority

Make prospecting a priority because it elevates everything about your team. When you spend more time on this aspect of sales, you gain more revenue, high-value clients and loyal customers.

Your prospecting plan is both a science and an art. Have your team develop tools to create more effective ways to land better leads and see where this seven-step process takes you.

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