When you’re starving for leads, prospecting is the only strategy to use to fill your pipeline immediately. I know you hate prospecting. It sounds intimidating. As one seller said, “people yell at me when I call.”
You may choose to start a lead generation or nurturing campaign, but you can’t rely on them for immediate leads. For the short term at least, you must prospect.
You’ll remember Ed, the business owner who emailed me in desperation, starving for leads and new clients. Funds are tight and they need leads now. But he isn’t sure what prospecting activities to use to get the leads they need.
If you’re in a similar situation, there are three activities that you can use to get prospects right away.
Many of our clients don’t like to cold call. They’d rather run lead generation or nurturing campaigns and see who responds. When you find yourself starving for leads, there’s no time for phone phobia. With a strong value proposition targeted on a key business issue and another to get past the executive gatekeeper, cold calling will garner you appointments without prospects yelling at you.
Expect an average connection rate of 12% and that 25% of those connections will turn into appointments. Plan to leave a voicemail when you don’t reach your prospect, and call back every three days until you reach him.
While cold calling may feel intimidating, if you invest the time, you will get appointments.
When I started my sales career at IBM, my manager drove me to the tallest building in Washington, D.C. “to prospect.” Up the elevator we went to the very top floor. He choose the first suite and as we walked in the door, said “Kendra, you’re on.” And my heart dropped to my feet.
Drop-in cold calling went out of style with the advent of voicemail and email in the 1990’s, but we’ve seen a resurgence of it in the past 18 months. While you can’t get into that same building my manager chose in Washington, D.C. because of security today, there are many businesses you can walk into and introduce yourself.
If your company relies on local relationships for its business, drop-in cold calling is very effective. We have a large number of clients who use it as their primary form of prospecting with notable results. You observe the prospect’s office, and what services or products they use. You can ply the receptionist with subtle needs gathering questions. You might even secure an impromptu meeting with a business owner, executive or manager. You establish an immediate relationship and learn all you need to qualify the prospect and set an appointment.
Send follow up emails
Email is the most popular prospecting activity today. Those same clients I mentioned who hate to cold call love to send prospecting emails.
Email prospecting can be very effective when it’s executed as a campaign, sending an email every three business days until you get a response. However, prospects are just as good at ignoring emails as you are at sending them. It can take as many as nine emails to get a response. That’s 27 business days and if your pipeline is lean, you don’t have 27 days to wait to uncover prospects.
To make email the most effective, intersperse it with cold calling and drop-in calling. After a cold call or drop-in, send an email. Many prospects will quickly respond to an email when they don’t have time to pick up the phone. We have loads of testimonials from sellers who’ve set appointments after only two calls and follow-up emails. Combining phone or drop-in calls with emails significantly improves your gain access time.
Two Critical Success Factors
As you use these prospecting activities, keep in mind the two critical success factors: consistency and a strong value proposition targeted on a key business issue in your target market.
If you’re consistent about cold calling, drop-in calling, and email prospecting, and use a value proposition that appeals to your target market, your pipeline will be full of new leads before you know it!
By: Kendra Lee
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