April 5, 2012


New prospects are the lifeblood of your company, but not all prospects are equal. In order to utilize your time wisely, it is vital to set up a ranking system for your prospects and then allocate the time you spend.

First, let’s look at ranking your prospects. The usual system is hot, warm and cold and this typically works quite well. However, you can further drill down your ranking methods by adding propensity data into the mix. While you may not always have access to this type of data, you can do your own research into the prospects and determine what their current needs are, and what their past buying habits have indicated.

There is a lot of data that is available publicly that can help you target your prospects. For example, you can look at current revenue numbers first to figure out whether or not your pricing structure will be a good fit for the prospect and whether they are more likely to be willing to spend more for your services.

Next, look for prospects that are closer to you geographically. Local customers are much more desirable since it gives you a chance to build that relationship one-on-one and get a real feel for their needs and what they want to accomplish. While you can build relationships with prospects over the phone and electronically, you still don’t get that personal touch that can seal the deal.

Relationship building also leads to developing a better prospect list for the future. Referrals are one of the most powerful, but under-utilized sales optimization tools. If you can lock down a relationship, you are expanding your “sphere of influence,” exponentially. Yes, it can take time to develop and keep that relationship, but over the life-span of that client relationship you can create a constant stream of referrals.

Learning to ask the right questions at the right time is vital for sales optimization and will help you spend your time wisely. This means developing listening skills as well as learning how to solve the problems prospects bring to you. Listen first, rank their needs in accordance with what you have to offer and determine whether or not this prospect is going to be someone you want to market to aggressively or whether they are someone who may not be a good fit, or if they are simply not ready at this time.

If you don’t have a prospecting system that makes it easy to rank your prospects and develop a game-plan for each one, now is the time to implement one. Keeping track of contacts and having the ability to rank each one is necessary for sales optimization. Your sales efforts will only be as powerful as the tools you use to manage those efforts.

It’s one thing to have all this data that can benefit you and your company. It’s another if you cannot manage it properly. Whether you use an in-house tool that you’ve developed, or you use a pre-made prospect management tool, the key is to use something that will support your sales optimization efforts.

At the end of the day, if you’re not taking the time to thoroughly research your prospect list and determine their propensity levels, you are wasting your selling time. These steps make it easy to sell just about anything to anyone because they focus on sales optimization and a needs-based approach, rather than a scatter-shot, hard-sell approach that falls on deaf ears.