Prospecting Doesn’t Have To Be A Dirty Word

I love this topic! I also hate this topic! And, even though we love to hate “prospecting” (unless it is for gold), it is a necessary evil for all hotel sales people. I (we) can all relate to the fact that we can come up with every reason in the book and do every other task on our To Do list first before we tackle prospecting.

We all have prospecting and cold call goals as part of our job description, and we all know that we have to do it. Let’s try to better analyze the prospecting process and maybe we’ll be better equipped, and more proactive in our search for new business.

According to Gary R. Hernbroth (author of the original article “Prospecting Doesn’t Have To Be A Dirty Word!”), the main reason why sales people don’t like/don’t do/don’t want to do prospecting and cold calling is FEAR. I can sympathize with that – Fear of rejection, Fear of stage fright, Lack of control, and Fear that we will be viewed as an interruption are all valid points. But what about our Fear of not making sales goals, Fear of our hotel not being successful, and ultimately Fear that someone else will have less Fear than we do?

I think Gary hit it on the head with his “Compelling Reasons”. In order to make your call valuable, you have to put yourself in your potential customer’s shoes. “What’s in it for me (them)?” Why should your customer want to bring their group to your hotel?

It all goes back to being prepared for the call, and knowing your customer. Pre-call research is paramount to the cold call process. If you have done your research and know what the business is all about, what’s going on that is newsworthy, and are prepared to ask questions about their business and can RELATE your sales pitch to their needs – then you technically eliminate the rationale of “Fear”.

So, forget about the problem or fear of “what to say” on a cold call, and focus on the “what to think” before the call! Do your research and know your customer’s business first. Remember with cold calling and prospecting, your ultimate goal is to know the players and start building a relationship, not make a sale…..the sale should come as a result of a strong relationship.

Happy Prospecting!


(Here’s the entire article if you’d like to read it…..I have highlighted a couple of passages in “red”. These, in my opinion are the key points.)

Prospecting Doesn’t Have To Be a Dirty Word!

By Gary R. Hernbroth
Chief Motivating Officer
March 21, 2012

“Aw, no, not prospecting… I hate that!”

Candidly, the majority of salespeople I’ve known and worked with admit this at one time or another in their careers – no matter how successful they are. Face it, prospecting or cold-calling can be a grind. Legions of salespeople find every excuse in the world not to have to prospect. “I’ve been in meetings,” “Our phones are ringing again,” “I don’t have the time.”

Why don’t salespeople run into their offices every day with fast heartbeats to pick up the phone or start emailing their prospecting efforts? Here are a few of the “fear factors” — :

* Fear of rejection – people don’t like to be told “no”
* Fear of stage fright – What to say? How to answer? What if they throw me a curveball?
* Lack of control – Salespeople LOVE to control the call or situation on their terms
* We are an interruption – Yes, we must face the fact that our prospects were doing something else, or thinking about something else, when we called them

So given these factors, is it any mystery why sales team leaders wring their hands and gnash their teeth trying to get their salespeople to prospect more? After all, it is the bread of life in one’s sales funnel. Without prospects on a steady basis, you will run out of business. Plain and simple.

So what to do? As a sales trainer/coach, I use the approach with my clients that the only real chance you have to make a cold call successful and get past those critical 15 seconds where the other person is deciding to flee or stay, is if you’ve got a COMPELLING REASON for them to do so — in other words, a WII-FM (what’s in it for me?). And doing your homework first will help here.

A WII-FM is something that the other person can grab onto as a benefit for listening to you. Can you make them something (e.g. money, improved level of results, etc.)? Can you save them something (e.g. money, risk, hassle, time, etc.)? Can you give them something? Can you create some success for them? Can you improve their life? Can you improve their job performance?

The criteria I’ve identified which buyers go through doing their “mental math” to decide whether or not to listen to a pitch, and, ultimately, buy or not buy, hinge on these questions:

The Buyer’s Criteria
* Will it make me (or my organization) money?
* Will it save me (or my organization) money?
* Will it improve our business model, our efficiencies?
* Will it help us help our customers?
* Will it help me personally (or my organization/family) shine?
* Can you do any of this better than your competition can?

Time after time, customer panels I work with stress that they want to hear from salespeople who do their homework, who know something about their business, their industry, and/or their organization. It saves them time and aggravation. Salespeople who don’t do their homework prior to making a “cold” call deserve whatever happens. I suggest making it a “warm” call by knowing something about the person or organization you are reaching out to. That way, you’ve got a shot at matching up what they may want or need with what you have. . It saves time and is much more professional. Many training programs only focus on the “what to say” of a cold call. I suggest putting some work into the “what to think” beforehand, too.

With today’s internet tools, there is no excuse to fall short with this. Plan your work then work your plan. Spending time on the internet “tunneling” inside the catacombs of companies before you reach out to them will not only answer many of these questions for you, but will also give you a sense of their internal culture, their future plans and direction, their goals or mission statement, and what is going on in their industry. To a consummate salesperson, these are key clues as to how you should approach your prospecting with them. Try and find a way to align what you find out with how your product or service will benefit them, keeping the six criteria above in mind.

Another benefit of “tunneling” is that you can also pick up possible affinity leads in places you never dreamed of – Who are their vendors? Who are their allied businesses? Who are their members? I once picked up several new business leads from leading golf equipment companies by researching my original client, the Golf Course Superintendents Association, and noticing them listed on various places within their website. I used my existing relationship with the GCSA to parlay an introduction to those vendor companies.

Before you pick up the phone or type your prospecting email, ask yourself this simple question or two: “How can my product/service help them?” “Why would they want to talk to me?”

By answering these questions and doing your homework, you’ll go into the call with much more confidence, and also increase your chances for the next step, too. Is there a chance for a possible marriage here? After all, that’s what a prospecting call or reach-out is – not necessarily to book anything right there on the spot (as many amateur salespeople believe) — but to qualify the possibility of doing business together at some point in the future.

Take the fear factor out of prospecting, and you’ll be more comfortable doing what you are paid to do — sell. When you’re more comfortable, you’ll perform better.

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