By Paul Reilly

Imagine you stopped contributing to your retirement accounts. You think, “I have enough money. I’ll just sit back and watch it grow.” Your goal is to let compounded interest take over and watch the money roll in. Do you really think you’ll reach your financial goals? Probably not. To reach your goals, you need to continuously invest new money.

In short, you can’t rely on what you have to get you where you need to be. The same is true for sales. Your growth from current customers is not enough to reach your long-term goals. Invest in new prospects the same way you invest new money.

Salespeople are not prospecting enough! Our research shows that most salespeople spend less than twenty percent of their time prospecting. Salespeople are bogged down with account maintenance, operational issues, administrivia, or non-selling corporate tasks. Salespeople are hired to sell and produce results. Everything else is secondary to prospecting and growing revenue.

Most businesses lose ten percent of their customers every year. I didn’t just dream up this number. Fredrick Reichheld, an expert in customer loyalty and retention, wrote in the Harvard Business Review that the average U.S. corporation loses half its customer base every five years. Relying too much on existing business puts salespeople in a vulnerable position. There’s a good chance you’re losing some business every year. Prospecting for new business is a proactive way to protect your territory and profitability. Every day that you don’t prospect, you’re losing ground to the competition.

Use this sequence of numbers to guide your prospecting effort: 10-6-3-1

10 – Create a list of ten prospects that fit the profile of good business for your company. On paper, these prospects should look similar to your best customers. Identify the common characteristics of your best customers and use that as a profile of good business.

6 – Our research shows that the average decision-making group includes six people. Identify the six people that either make or influence the decision. Understand their roles and the common problems they face. Gain an in-depth understanding of how they define value by asking the right questions.

3 – Use three sources of communication when contacting the prospect. Whether it’s phone, text, email, cold call, letter, or social media, find a way to surround the prospect with your message of value. When requesting a meeting, remember the acronym GET (Grab their attention—Establish the need—Tease with a benefit). Grab the buyer’s attention through a trigger event. A trigger event is any event that would cause the buyer to be more open to your solution or idea. Establish the need by explaining the problem you solve or by answering the question, “What is the compelling need for your solution?” Finally, tease the buyer. Teasing with a benefit statement is a powerful way to excite the prospect enough to take action—like agreeing to meet with you.

1 – Find one referral to introduce you to the prospect. The journal of marketing research shows that one referral is worth twelve cold calls. It’s easier for a prospect to open a door if you’re referred by someone they know and trust. Review LinkedIn for common connections. Reach out to your circle of influence to find a referral. A referral is the most effective way to initiate contact with a prospect.

Salespeople often ask, “How many prospecting calls should I make?” The short answer…as many as it takes. Think in terms of time not number of calls. For the next three weeks, dedicate two hours every day to prospecting. Use these tips to jumpstart your prospecting campaign. Schedule your prospecting activity at the most productive times of your day. Be relentless in your pursuit for new business. Remember, you’re already losing ten percent of your customers. Find the time. Do the work. Make the calls.

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