Cold calling, gold calling, prospecting, prospection,
Go on, pick it up, it doesn’t bite!

Photo credit: Macinate

Prospecting. An activity which more often than not isn’t really appreciated, both by sales people and those at the other end (maybe because they have some pre-conceived idea?). Concentrating on the negative feeling sales people have, it could be because it comes along with the fear of “rejection”. Add to this the growing belief that to prospect, i.e. to contact people from cold is “dead” as content marketing and social are the ways for organisations to generate inbound leads. I keep reading “outbound is dead”. I personally believe there is a lot of value to have both inbound marketing and outbound sales effort combined together. For my sins, I do quite enjoy prospecting. Remember, it all start with a conversation so we need to set-up this conversation and prospecting is the mean to this end. We know the good old latin locution “Cogito ergo sum” – “I think therefore I am”. I think something similar can be said for sales:  “Sello ergo prospectum” (did they prospect back then? And what’s the latin for “sell”?) or in proper English “I am in sales therefore I prospect”.  So, here are five reasons why I prospecting is great and actually not that hard:

  • Control and ownership: The main problem of inbound marketing is the lack of control I have over it. I do not control who contacts, the role, the type of organisation, the timing of being contacted, etc… When prospecting, I am in control of who I approach, when I approach, etc….
  • Speed: Inbound marketing major drawback is speed. It takes time to build an effective, well run inbound strategy. And it is not really possible to “turn the dial” quickly. With a well run prospecting campaign, these are issues easily addressed.
  • Sales message versus marketing message: There is a critical difference between a sales messages and a marketing message. Marketing is focused on features and benefits. Marketing is targeted at an organization. Sales isn’t. Sales is focused on the pains felt by the prospect. Because people buy emotionally and rationalise after. Simply put, people buy because of the pain they have and use the features and benefit to rationalise.
  • It ain’t personal: When selling and even more so when prospecting, there are a lot of “Nos”. No way round it. But the no is not a no to the individual. It’s a “No, there are no pains we currently have that your solution address”. So, it isn’t personal! And should not be taken as such.
  • Tools: Phone is a good way to prospect but it doesn’t have to be the only one. At the risk of sounding “geeky”, the prospecting landscape is absolutely filled with tools that one can use to implementing a nice prospecting strategy making the prospecting effort easier. From very simple DIY tools that helps track competitors and keywords, the likes of HootSuite, to more advanced with bells and whistles like Artesian and Iko. Prospecting doesn’t have to be hard and these tools certainly make this activity much easier.

And here is the last which I find to be the over-riding one. Pretty self-explanatory:

My competition doesn’t like prospecting, doesn’t do it which gives me a competitive advantage

Finally, I see a lot of companies “outsourcing” their prospecting effort to call centres. I haven’t personally experienced it but wonder why, with all the social tools out there, this still happens (I stress the caveat: I lack specific hands-on experience on this approach). However, there are ways to scale prospecting without having to rely on approaches which I feel are coming from previous century.

So, what’s your approach to prospecting? And if you use tool, which one you use? I am thinking of building a page about all the tools out there, so keen to hear what you find useful. Thanks!