If you’ve nailed the answer to “what do you do?” and you happen to have a great product or service, you’re still only a fraction of the way to prospecting success (sorry about that!) The next big factor is who you approach. You can have the best product in the world with a fabulous value proposition statement but if you spend your time communicating that statement to hundreds (or thousands) of the wrong people, you won’t sell anything.
That’s a pretty obvious statement. But it’s something many, many sales people and organizations fall down on. The “devil is in the details” in sales and in this area in particular. If you don’t exactly figure out which firms and which people will be involved in buying your product, you are pretty much guaranteed no sales.
Getting through to people is getting harder all the time. In fact, it’s really the biggest bottleneck in the sales process. So generating lists of appropriate targets is becoming more critical all the time. In our telesales operation we prospect every day for a number of clients with different products and services. Increasingly we are finding that our lists need to be “trigger event-driven”.
Trigger-events are changes that have occurred in a company, including: new executives, mergers, growth, downsizing, cost-cutting and new product launches. This kind of change creates disruption and disruption creates needs, aka opportunity for sales people. You can research many of these “high level” trigger-events by monitoring company press releases. Our favorite tool for doing that right now is InsideView.
Once you’ve got a good list of target companies you should develop a list of target people in those companies. If you are targeting larger companies, consider that recent research by MarketingSherpa showed that IT products (for example) over $25,000 in value have twenty-one (21) people involved in purchasing them! So you may identify the right ultimate purchaser for your product, often a “C-level” executive: CEO, CFO or CIO but your best way in to the account initially can be someone else lower down the org chart.
“Calling Low” is a great way to find out what specific projects or change initiatives are going on in that account. This gives you information you can use to go back to the C-level executives with something more compelling to say because you can now customize your message to their specific company situation. So your target person list should include not only C-level titles but titles of all the people in a target company that might be able to help you get started in that account (the toughest “nut to crack” in the whole sales process).
Building great lists of sales targets is now, more than ever, a critical part of the sales process. It seems tedious and time-consuming to many sales people but the time spent here is a fraction of the time you will waste prospecting to the wrong people.
Get “The Who” right and you may be a “sales rock star” who is around as long as Pete Townsend and Roger Daltry.