Routines are a big part of sales success. There are only so many hours in a day to sell, so the better salespeople are at doing everyday tasks, the more time they have for high-value activities like meeting with prospects or learning new skills.
But it’s not always a good idea to do things the same way. If you always use the same ways to find prospects and never try anything new, you will miss out on good chances. After all, traditional channels won’t let you know about many buyers.
Maybe they haven’t switched suppliers in 20 years and would only do so if a trusted business partner suggested another one. Or, maybe they don’t even know they have a problem, so they won’t download your content or look for a salesperson.
To find these high-value prospects, you’ll need to come up with some creative ways to prospect. You can get ideas from these six things.
1. Set up a website to get referrals
An expert on sales referrals, says that customers and contacts can send you referrals by using a simple website.
The headline should say something like, “Someone who cares about your success brought you here because they thought main benefit of salesperson’s product would help you.”
Cate also suggests making a short video if you have the means to do so. Tell people who you are, why you believe in your product, and two or three interesting things. This video will not only show that you are a real person and make people more likely to want to work with you, but it will also show how much you care about what you do.
Having trouble figuring out what motivates you? Cate suggests you ask yourself the following questions:
- Why do I work in this field?
- Why do I think what I do is important?
- Why do I work for the company I do?
- Why am I glad to be with the people I’m with?
- Why am I more excited about this job than anything else I’ve ever done?
The last part of the site should make visitors want to do something. Give them something useful in exchange for their name and email address, or use a tool like Meetings to ask them to schedule a time to talk on your calendar.
2. Form strategic alliances
Take a page from your marketing team’s playbook and work with other businesses that have the same kind of customers. You’ll each get qualified leads, and you’ll also learn important things about your buyers. You’ll share a lot of information with each other, from buying trends to tips on how to sell to certain prospects. This method is similar to co-marketing, but it’s for your sales team.
If you don’t know which companies to go after, find out what else your customers buy and then find the best companies that sell those things.
For instance, let’s say you offer accounting services to new businesses. If you ask your customers what else they buy in the same price range, you’ll find that most of them outsource their legal needs. With this information, you could talk to lawyers and agree to send each other a certain number of clients every three months.
This arrangement is also good for your prospects. Before, it might have taken them two months to look into and compare different legal options. With your suggestion, it might only take them two weeks.
- If you don’t know which companies your customers buy from that are not in competition with you, ask:
- “What else are you thinking about buying right now?”
- “What did you buy the last time?”
- “Where are you going to put your money next?”
- “What other difficulties are you facing?”
- “What else do you plan to do to meet needs?”
3. Go to the events of your clients
Try to guess where your buyers hang out. Other people who might buy. Because of this, events that your customers put on are gold mines for prospects.
After people have signed the contract, it pays to keep in touch with them. Reach out to customers once a quarter and ask how they’re doing. You could also send them a relevant article or tip, congratulate them on recent company news, or offer to put them in touch with someone in your network that they would benefit from knowing.
People who know you well will often invite you to professional events on their own. But you should also check their websites and/or sign up for their newsletters so you know when an event is happening. Ask your client, “Would I be able to go to [event] on [date]?” Since you’ve always given them something of value, they’ll probably be happy to help.
4. Send a book to them
There are a few reasons why sending a book to a prospect usually works. First of all, almost everyone loves getting packages, from CEOs to low-level employees. Second, the person you’re talking to usually feels like they have to respond to your email or call you back. Third, you have the chance to show how knowledgeable you are by choosing a book that fits the challenges and needs of the buyer.
To use this method with a specific prospect, you need to think of one to three things she might be interested in. She might be the head of human resources at a medium-sized software company. Based on her past experience with similar prospects, she seems to be focused on reducing the average time to hire, improving retention after two years, and making more opportunities for professional development. Use these criteria to find a book with advice or examples that are useful. (If you’re having trouble, ask similar prospects what their favorite work-related books are or search “[pain point] best books” and “[prospect’s industry] best books.”)
Send the book to the buyer’s company along with a note explaining why you think it might be valuable. (Make sure your prospect’s name is on the package.)
Here’s an example of one:
Dear [name of prospect],
Are you [struggling with X, trying to make the most of Y, or worried about Z]? This book could be useful to you. I really liked [specific tip/section/explanation] in chapter X.
Most mail carriers let you request a signature upon delivery for an extra fee. Use this option; as soon as you hear that the package has been signed for, give your prospect a call or send them an email.
Say something like, “Hi [prospect’s name], it looks like you just got my package. Would you like to talk about the ideas in the book over the phone on [date and time]?”
Whether or not they say yes, you’ll have made a good impression, which means you still have a good chance of getting some time on their schedule at some point.
5. Offer consulting sessions for free
Time is a salesperson’s most valuable asset, so the idea that they should give it away for free seems strange. But this can be a very good way to find prospects who are a good fit.
First, figure out who your ideal customers are, including their industry, market, company size, job title, location, etc. Then, focus on a problem that most of these customers are likely to have.
For example, a salesperson who works with biomedical companies might focus on how hard it is for his prospects to get funding.
Once you know what the problem is, give buyers free 20- to 60-minute consultations on how to solve it. The length of your meeting should depend on how big and complicated the problem is and how big your average deal is. If you only have a few high-value customers, you should have longer consultations. If you have a lot of low-value customers, you should cut the length of the consultations.
You will be seen as an expert in the field after these consultations. When prospects look for answers to their problems, you’ll be one of the first people they think of.
You can also use this method to get in touch with people who can help you. Tell your current customers that you’re willing to help them for free with a certain problem, and then ask them if they know anyone else who is having that problem.
6. Set people up with each other
People are more likely to put you in touch with potential buyers if you’ve already done something helpful for them. So, make it a habit to ask potential clients, “Are you looking for new suppliers, employees, partners, or customers right now?”
Ask, “Can you tell me about your ideal [supplier, employee, partner, or customer]?”
Use the criteria your prospect gave you to find possible matches in your network. They’ll be grateful for your help and eager to repay you by putting you in touch with people who are similar to your ideal customer.
If you feel like your prospecting strategy is getting old and you’re not getting the results you want, try some or all of these six ideas to find new customers.
7. Start a niche group or join one.
Groups are a great way to find new customers. You can find groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, and in real life. If you sell building materials to contractors in your area, look for local groups for real estate investors, realtors, contractors, and architects.
If the leads are at in-person meetups, go to them often, get to know the people there, and maybe even ask to speak at one of them. You’ll make progress with qualified prospects, and they’ll be more likely to remember you when they need to order supplies or recommend you to a business partner.
Online groups are also a good way to reach out to people. Ask to join groups where your ideal customer hangs out when it makes sense. Before making a pitch, you should get to know the people in the group first. Join conversations without trying to sell something, and add value by answering questions and sharing useful resources.
If someone asks you a specific question that you know your product or service could answer, tell them you’ll send them a direct message with more information. If you keep your pitch private, you won’t send it to prospects who may not be ready for it.
When in doubt, say something nice. If a prospect liked an article you sent them through the “Contractors of Toledo” LinkedIn Group, don’t send them a message saying, “I saw you liked my article about new Ohio building permits. Let me tell you how I can help you and other Ohio contractors save money on supplies.” Your prospect might have liked the article or accidentally clicked “Like.” Sending them a message right away sends the wrong message.
Instead, thank them by leaving a comment. From there, it’s up to them to do something.
8. Send out mail
Give this old way of reaching out to people a new look by choosing one main message (“The best customer service for building supplies in Ohio”), one call to action (“Call today for a free estimate”), and strong images to lead with.
Don’t forget to include impressive company statistics (“We respond to each support ticket or customer call in one hour or less”), a glowing customer testimonial (“Buckeye Building Supply was able to update my order in under an hour when a client had a last-minute change of mind on cabinetry materials!”), and a special offer to get people to contact you (“Call today to get 10% off your first order. “).
Even though salespeople are sending more requests than ever before, this has given the mailbox a break. Take advantage of the situation and make a direct mail campaign that will get people calling you all the time.
You don’t have to make prospecting a chore. This week, try out some of these creative sales ideas and see how your numbers change.