Let's face it. No one likes to cold call, warm call, or do any type of prospecting. Even if you don't use the phone and, instead, reach out to new potential clients via email, the process can be intimidating.
But sometimes you just have to do it. Especially when you need to land some new clients fairly quickly, or break into a new market where you're not as well known.
The good news is, there are ways to make prospecting calls - or send prospecting emails - that are easy-to-do and get very good results.
Here are just a few of those ways:
1. Rethink your definition of "prospecting".
Prospecting is not about trying to sell your services to strangers. It's about introducing yourself to people who have a likelihood of being interested in your services.
There are two important words in that definition: Introducing, and likelihood.
Prospecting isn't about a sale. It's about an introduction. All you're trying to do is get the conversation started.
And you're not focusing on everyone. Just those who you have identified as having a likelihood of being interested in your services.
So when you're prospecting - by making calls, sending emails, or connecting via social media - your focus is on building relationships with those who may want to do business with you, now or in the future.
And when you think of prospecting in that way, it becomes much easier. (And, as it turns out, a lot more effective.)
2. Focus on high-probability prospects.
Don't call or email every name you can find in your target market. That's exhausting and only increases your chances of rejection.
Be selective. Find out!
Who in your target market is most likely to be receptive to hearing from you and learning more about your services? Or, to put it another way, who do you suspect has the highest need for the services you provide?
In The Wealthy Freelancer, my co-authors and I called these people your "high-probability prospects". And if you focus on those people, you'll be prospecting less, but getting much better results.
Think about it. If you're calling or emailing people who have a likelihood of being interested in your services, what kind of a response do you think you'll get? In most cases, a good response!
3. Use your REAL voice.
I received an email from an investment advisor last week introducing her services to me. Unfortunately, her message read like a page from a sales brochure. (It might actually have been cut and pasted from a brochure!)
I couldn't help thinking: would she send an email like that to someone she knew, like a friend or client?
Probably not. She would probably just be herself and use her own voice.
And that's what you should do, too, when calling or emailing. Just be yourself!
Now, there's nothing wrong with creating a script or template to use as a guide when prospecting. Just make sure it reflects the way you normally talk.
Be authentic. Be yourself. That is, perhaps, the most effective prospecting technique of them all.
4. Tailor your message.
The more customized your message is, the more likely the prospect will be interested in hearing (or reading) it.
To do that, you'll need to take a few minutes to get to know the prospect better before you call or email. Check out the prospect's website. Review recent press releases about the company.
Often, when you do a little digging, you'll discover a good reason to call or email. Maybe the prospect is launching a new product soon? Or attending an important trade show? Any of those facts can make your prospecting message much more personalized, relevant, and effective.
5. Get introduced.
There's no doubt about it. If you can say something like, "Your colleague, Dave Smith, suggested I give you a call", your chances of success go up ten-fold.
So explore ways you can get introduced to prospects by people you already know. LinkedIn.com provides tools that help you do that. You can also just ask your close colleagues and clients if they know people in their networks who would be interested in learning about your services.
There you have it. Five ways to make prospecting easier and more effective.
Remember, it's all about building relationships. And if you just focus on that, you'll find that prospecting isn't such a pain after all. You might even come to love it. Or, at least, like it!
Now, let's talk about next steps. Here's a simple exercise you can do to kick off any prospecting effort and see some results quickly.
I call this the "low hanging fruit" technique.
Think about all the ideal prospects in your target market. Who is MOST likely to be receptive to hearing from you? A prospect may be receptive to your email or call because they know you, have some other connection to you, have an immediate need that you can fill, or is simply such an ideal match for your service that they'll wander why you haven't contacted them sooner!
Now, make a list of at least five of this high-probability prospects.
Next, call or email each of them.
You can do that today, can't you?
Steve Slaunwhite is the co-author of The Wealthy Freelancer and creator of the Practically Painless Prospecting course. You can find out more about that course at www.PracticallyPainlessProspecting.com.