A Simple & Effective Prospecting Program, Part 1

We have a simple and effective prospecting program for your commercial staff. It needs to be simple so that it can get done and it is effective because it is something that can be done regularly.

The first premise is that there needs to be a change of attitude about prospecting. If the salesperson is going out there hoping to make a sale and hearing a bunch of negative answers, it is going to take a very strong, focused person to do that every day consistently and stay upbeat and enthusiastic. The change in attitude starts by understanding a different idea of why we are prospecting. Basically, we prospect to find out who are potential customers are. The real advantage to outside prospecting is that you get to see their business up front and personal. You get to see their building, their location, the inside of their business or shop, the kind of vehicles they drive, some employees, the kind of equipment they have, and so on. You will never find any of that in the database or the Yellow Pages. You will only see that in person.

So, I recommend that we start with this premise: we are going to go out and visit businesses in our area and gather information about them so that we can learn who our prospects are, what they do and how we might be of service. Take the heat off of the prospecting. I have seen it happen over and over again from dealership to dealership where people go out one or two days and they are done. They get bummed out and quit. Who wants to endure that kind of pressure and negativity. So we lighten up the process and put a spin on the approach. We don't go in trying to make a sale, we go in to gather information.

This does not mean that I am not into sales. We will be thinking of how we can be of service to this company. We will base much of that thinking on what we see in our visit and how they respond to us. The goal is to be looking for opportunities--to be aware of what is going on in the company, how they use vehicles. This may lead to determining a better choice of vehicle to show them to help them do their job better and more efficiently. Maybe the opportunity is to promote the service department. Everyone needs service, so that is a great thing to offer. You might have service coupons to give out and encourage them to visit soon. If you get them coming into service, you can get them buying vehicles in time. I always recommend that a dealer buy some trinkets to leave behind at each of these calls. These can be note pads, ink pens, letter openers or other small things, with your logo and information on them of course. People bearing gifts are always more welcome.

Basically, we are trying to find out who these people are that run the business, what they do and how they do it and what the potential is for us to do business. In that light, we need to think about how we can help them, 1. make more money, 2. save money, or 3. help them do their job better or more efficiently. If we can answer any of these, we have a second appointment coming very soon to discuss how we can do these things.

Now, here's why I'm so big on training. It is because in this prospecting situation, the difference in turning information gathering into a sale is your knowledge of your products, the bodies that go on them and their uses and flexibility. You need to know what to offer them in a way to help them with their transportation needs. Having not just the knowledge of the products, but the understanding of the products is key. You need to think like a problem solver.

So the first point was to take the curse off of prospecting by changing the way it is viewed. We don't go out to make a sale, we go out to find a prospect, determine their needs and how we can fulfil them, then we make an appointment and try to sell. There's nothing to sell in the first visit, except yourself and your gifts. With this little change, you can turn the one, two, quit kind of prospecting into a consistent and effective plan.

More prospecting ideas tomorrow.

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