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A Better Way to Prospect

By: Mary Sprow, Top Golf | Mar 5, 2019

Top GolfOver the past 20 years or so, new client acquisition, or prospecting, has made a switch from the old days of “cold calling” to relationship building or “prospecting.”

Thank goodness, because according to the Harvard Business Review, cold calling is ineffective 90% of the time and more research indicates that 2% of cold calls result in an actual meeting.  To make the shift, you may have to change your thinking and come up with more creative ways to connect with your prospective client. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Ask for Referrals

  • Ask some of your star clients to do the referring for you. Make it about them and offer an incentive, making you both look good. Suggest a referral luncheon (on you) or offer them something they would normally pay for.

  • Word of mouth is the best sales and marketing tool for anyone. Share their story or add their testimonial on your website or collateral.

Ask A Better Question

  • When you’re out meeting prospects at a networking event, you’ll naturally going to ask questions. Instead of struggling through the initial greeting by asking “So … what do you do?” Ask a better question, one that makes them think, but does not start from a place of mindless small talk. Start out with openers like “Where are you from?” “What do you think about this event?” “How did you come to join this organization?” or “How did you get into your field of work?” Round it out with “How can I be help to you right now?”

  • This allows your conversation to start with a feeling of “Let’s do it” instead of a place of skepticism or “What’s this person selling?”

Follow YOUR own interests

  • Guess who your new friends (code for prospects) like to hang out with? Other people who have similar interests. Why feign interest in a subject when there are so many special interests you may have a passion for? Economic Development? What to wear this season? Environment? Humanitarian Issues? Yep, there is something for everyone.

  • People do business with who they know, like and trust. Having a common interest is the best way to meet all three of those criteria.

 Widen Your Social Media Footprint

  • Depending on which type of selling environment you’re in, this will point you in the right direction of which platform to use. If you are strictly B2B, LinkedIn and Twitter are your best bets. B2C means Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (remember everyone is also a consumer).

  • Social media is like a companion piece to the prospecting you already do. Social media alone will most likely not drive your business, but it does keep your business top of mind and aware of any new relevant information.

  • Become active: Start a weekly Twitter chat. Identify a list of #Hashtags related to the industry you are targeting. Look for Tweet questions that you can answer and point to relevant content on your website. Create weekly posts on LinkedIn.

  • Make a daily habit of reviewing your newsfeed and like, share and comment on the content posted by your connections

Lastly: Don’t Give Up. 

  • Never give up on the leads you believe have gone cold. Keep in touch with prospects after the sales process and make sure you continue to send them helpful content even if they decided not to purchase. This helps you go beyond your initial follow-up and stay top of mind. By working your referrals, introductions and new prospects, and connecting these people with their needed resources, you will have a steady stream of warm leads that are turning warmer and ultimately into hot leads.

About the author: Mary Sprow has been an event specialist in the Chicagoland area for the past 20 years. She currently leads the Midwest sales effort for Topgolf based in Naperville. Prior to Naperville, she was the Director of Sales at Entourage at American Lane Restaurant and Creative Concepts, the founders of Boogie Nights, Trio and The Bamboo Room, also in the Midwest. Ms. Sprow brings both networking, sales and sales coaching to this column.

 

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Mary Sprow, Top Golf
Topgolf Naperville

 
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