Prospecting for future customers can be fun if you approach it the right way. It is not a wild goose chase; it is a wild goose HUNT. Cold prospecting requires you to start from nothing and end up with the name and contact information of the person who can say “yes” to you. If you are in a situation where you have to use cold prospecting as a way to generate sales, you should go in fully prepared. Your goose hunting gear includes both research and creativity. In order to sell your product to a business, you must first find out who the real decision maker is. This is the fun part. You should start your research on the internet. It is amazing how much you can find out about a person or a company with Google. Typically, if the business is public, you will find all the information that you need to know on their annual reports. If the company is not a public one, or you simply are not having much luck with their financial statements, then you should look for company press releases.
As a matter of fact, before you start all of this digging, try their homepage. Between all of these different methods you will come up with a name and some form of contact information. Contact information does not need to include their direct phone line (good luck getting that). There are four acceptable means of contacting your future customers – email, snail mail, fax, and telephone. Gather as much information as you can. In order to gather enough information you will also need to be creative. This part is more fun than the first part. There are no bounds when trying to engage your future customer and trying to reach the coveted next step – the appointment. Don’t shy away because you feel that your methods might be ‘unprofessional.’ Salespeople worry too much about professionalism. Instead, you should try and have fun. By having fun and being creative you will not only enjoy yourself, you will get your future customer to smile. Now that is something that your competition was certainly NOT able to do. The best way to get your creative juices flowing is to write down what your objective is.
Your objective could be to get the email address of the decision maker. With that in mind, think about all the different ways to get an email address. Start by calling and asking for it. If it sounds too simple, then you obviously have not tried it before. No luck calling, then stop in. If you expertly prepare for a cold call visit, you’ll be able to have a hand delivered note to the decision maker accompanying your information. You do not just want to leave you information; you want to get to know the gatekeeper on a first name basis, and ask him/her for the decision maker’s business card. This will go smoothly due to the fact that you are already walking in the door with their name. (You should also try and see the decision maker right then on the spot.) Now you have their business card and you are on a first name basis with the gatekeeper. You are now prepared to expertly engage the decision maker and move on to the next step – getting the appointment. When you are prospecting you need to have the guts to try something new. What do you have to lose? You didn’t even know their name before. Have some fun and be creative. If you sound like a salesperson, then you are doing something wrong and chances are you aren’t having any fun.