Maybe I should call this my “Walking Dead” series. I just competed and article that got a lot of attention (I need that as a middle child) about cold calling… answering the question that cold calling is not dead that people just have no idea on how to do it.
Because of new media and social media the entire realm of prospecting is taking a significant beating. For those of you that are unfamiliar with this term, prospecting, is the act of generating leads. Modern day reps leave this “dirty” work as a task of marketing, which as a policy that’s a very good idea. Marketing, with new and social media, can perfect the art of communicating in this digital world. I recently read a stat published by HubSpot that 75% of all buying decisions are made before a potential client picks up the phone or lobs an email into the companies they want to speak with. Although this is a great way of sitting back and waiting to see what business comes in the door, it is not the best way to be proactive about finding the companies that you want to work with.
That’s right, you have the ability to find companies that you think would be a good client and go after them. It really bothers me when salespeople who don’t hit their number sit around and complain about the quality of leads the company is giving them. There are no victims in selling, only people who our hungry and people that aren’t. The down side to this idea is the longer you wait the longer it takes. Yep, that’s great literary fodder but the challenging side of proactive prospecting is, it take time to get rolling. It is not a quick fix and it needs to be a daily habit. The other thing that reps struggle with is being creative enough to know where to look for these companies.
Where to look
If you are hungry and committed and not creative about prospecting, it will still work for you, but adding that last piece can make this process fun. That’s right… fun. Here is an example. I am in the process of writing a book about Uber drivers. I have found that each driver has a story and all of those stories, 11 interviews so far, have been attached to what I like to call an entrepreneurial spirit. Uber is allowing people to earn money in a flexible way that gives them the ability to start a business. It’s an amazing thing. Yesterday I took a Uber ride from the Houston airport to my hotel. It was late and I was a little tired but I started my conversation like usual to find what secret business my driver was working on. What I got shocked me in a good way. My Uber driver was an auto mechanic. He had a real passion for cars and fixing cars, you could really tell. He created a company with his brother that would come to your home, office or side of the road to fix your car. I asked him how business was and he said, “Great!” Curious, because most of the drivers I interview are in the struggling startup phase, so I asked him why he was driving for Uber? This is the great part, he said that this is where he gets most of his business. I was floored… it was genius. As a Uber driver on a day in and day out basis he is carting around people who are in the mist of car trouble and in a very non-threatening way he is coming to the rescue and because he is mobile his rates are lower and folks don’t have to worry about towing. Pure genius. This driver’s version of creative prospecting was driving people around talking about their car troubles, and getting paid to do it.
My articles are geared to Fintech, SaaS sales people with my back ground being in Accounts Payable Automation, so we aren’t as fortunate as an auto mechanic to have Uber, but we have Monster.com (and other sites). One of the key aspects of Accounts Payable Automation is the idea that you won’t have to do any data entry into the accounting system. This is a task that is typically done by the AP Clerk. If you want to do some creative prospecting, go to Monster.com do a search for AP Clerk in your area and what comes up is a list of people who need your help and have no idea they need your help. You have to filter thought agencies, but depending on your territory you can count on a good handful of leads every week. You can amp this too by setting up an email notification to send you the most up to date postings so you don’t even have to search. In general, job postings are a great way of finding out about the companies you want to do business with as well as give you insights that the company don’t put on their home page.
Not everyone that reads my articles is in software or high-tech or even AP Automation, so the job posting or Uber idea won’t really apply, but I am hoping that by giving you these two examples that will start you down your own creative prospecting path that ends with a unique way of finding people who need what you’re offering. Like I wrote earlier, if you do this a few things will happen.
(1) You will have more fun, and the idea of prospecting will become more of a game that you are winning.
(2) You will become less of a commodity because you are going after business instead of waiting for people to call you. I hope I don’t burst anyone’s bubble by writing this, but when a potential client calls you after doing their internet research, you are not the only one they are going to call. When you creatively prospect you set yourself in a league of your own and leave your competition behind.
(3) You will make more money… just like the Uber driver.
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About The Author:
Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people who started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information