This sales prospecting technique will show you exactly where to find prospects that are just like your best customers. Use it to find warm leads for your sales pipeline. It includes questions you can ask to start effective sales conversations.
Think of your top 5 customers. They don’t give you headaches. They pay their bills on time. And they are easy to work with. They’re even willing to provide customer testimonials. They are your best customers for a good reason.
Wouldn’t it be nice to find prospects that are just like your best customers?
1. Where to Find Prospects
It’s actually a lot easier than you might think. Follow these proven sales prospecting steps to know where to find prospects.
The first step in sales prospecting is to determine where to find prospects. You want to go where your best prospects hang out. Chances are, that’s exactly where your best customers hang out, too.
Contact your 5 best customers. Tell them you are doing some market research and ask them this question:
Which networking events do you never miss?
Note the way I phrased this. I didn’t say “which networking events are you planning on going to?” I said “which events do you never miss?”
Your best customers will share the conferences, seminars, trade shows, user group meetings and other events that offer incredibly good networking opportunities.
This is one of the simplest, yet most overlooked methods of sales prospecting.
Your customers may be distributors or wholesalers who resell your product line to their customers.
If you ask this question to your top 5 customers, it’s a very good bet that you will find prospects just like them at those events.
Then, ask your customer if you can tag along or attend that networking event with them.
2. Get Your Best Customers to Endorse You
At the networking event, your customers will automatically become advocates for your business – without you prompting them.
Stand in the same circle of people with your customers and they will start to introduce you to people they know.
Again, if they’re your top clients, they will probably say things like “yes, Joe’s company handles all of our <description of your services> – they do a great job!” – all within earshot of your new acquaintances.
3. Questions to Ask During Sales Prospecting
As you talk to people at networking events, don’t dive into what their business is and try to figure out if there is a fit for you. That’s like saying, “Hi, nice to meet you. Will you marry me?” They just met you. They need to get to know you first.
Instead of diving into business questions, ask what I call relationship building questions:
- Are you from around here?
- Did you grow up here?
- What made you move to the area?
Look for commonalities. Maybe your kids go to the same school, maybe you both played sports in college, or both served in the military. Note that none of this goes into business. It’s all about building relationships.
4. Be the Connector, Provide Them With a Lead
When you get comfortable enough and you feel like there is some rapport, you can ask what kinds of business challenges they are facing. Again, you are not asking how you can help them. You are simply asking them about issues they are trying to solve.
If they say they’re looking to redo their website and are in the market for a graphic designer, you might think that since you don’t provide graphic design services that there’s no immediate opportunity.
However, there is a good chance that someone in your network can help. Maybe you know a good designer or two. Maybe someone in your LinkedIn network can help.
So, don’t let your new acquaintance’s comment fall by the wayside. Say this:
Jane, I might know some designers who could help you out. Could I get your business card? I’m happy to make the connection for you.
When you get back to your office, find every designer you know who could help. Post a status update on your LinkedIn network. Send the designers this note:
Tracy, I know someone who might need some graphic design work. If this is something you can help with, let me know and I’ll connect you.
Every designer you reach out to will respond to that email. Nobody is going to turn down the opportunity for a referral.
Send a follow up email to each person to make the connection.
This modern networking approach to sales prospecting does 3 powerful things:
- Provided value to your new networking contact.
- Provided a lead to your prior contacts.
- Increased the level of trust that all parties have for you.
The beauty of this approach is that even if the lead doesn’t pan out, they will remember and appreciate your gesture.
You’ve added points to that layer of trust which is necessary before a prospect is ready to buy your products or services.
5. Keep in Touch
Once you identify where to find prospects and spend the effort to attend networking events, you must stay in touch with your new contacts.
The sad part about networking is that most people lose touch shortly after making the connection. This is easy to fix. It just requires a tiny bit of post meeting discipline.
Upon returning from your networking event and doing the initial follow up with your new contacts, do two quick things:
Connect with them on LinkedIn
This is a quick way to build your connections and stay in touch. When they connect with you, you can see if there are people in their network who might be worth contacting at some point.
Add them to your email newsletter list or CRM tool
Think of all the people you’ve met over the years and lost touch. Many of them have gone on to pick your competitors because they weren’t ready when you met them but became ready later on.
Add your new contacts to an email list tool like MailChimp or other service so you can keep in touch. If you use a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, add your contacts so you can track your conversations with them.
By staying in touch, you stay top-of-mind. That means your contacts will think of you first when they think of your products and services.