Prospecting Post COVID 19
Being optimistic is not foolish as it allows us to balance reality as well as accepting that not everything will go to plan.
Prospecting the most hated part of any salespersons role?
As we look towards the next period in the COVID 19 story, Post Covid, as business reemerges to the realities inevitably, some companies will go bankrupt and not return.
So what new opportunities await the legions of salespeople as they try to replace and build new business?
Regardless of our current state due to the pandemic, let us not forget companies still fail even in good times.
For those wise sales pros that have been around the block a few times, they will have already learned the lesson of track the people, not the company. And for the very wise sales guys, they will have built up several relationships over time within their accounts and prospects, and not just one primary contact.
Over the years, I have, on occasion, I’ve been fortunate when what was first seen as a calamity when a key contact left an organisation I have a strong business relationship, turned up in its competitor, allowing me the find an open door of opportunity.
History says that what grows out of the ashes of a company collapse may come from others within the company and not necessarily the predicted few at the top.
How much research should I do into a prospect?
In the last few weeks, I have been asked on several occasions how much research should I be doing when looking for new prospective customers. Just rapidly ringing a number or sending out an intro email is not going to give any measurable reward.
Therefore it is correct to do some research in advance of picking up or sending that intro email. However, like the can of worms, there are many different variations and ideas out there. For me, I have always kept that first research level to a simple format of Means, Motive, and Authority. M.M.A. for the pre-first engagement.
Depending on the size of the organisation, you are working for; they might have invested in some tech automation to extract the information below. Now interestingly, you would not be the first to find that your marketing department has access to this info, so you may have to negotiate with them to share their toys.
However, if you like so many are not that fortunate, then let us continue with the manual version below.
Means, Motive, and Authority
A simple level of research to establish that they are viable and active if they are a limited company, look up at the published accounts online. And they may even issue an annual report for their investors.
Companies House will show you the director’s names, position, and terms of service. This initial information should provide a view to their potential to invest or borrow as needed based on previous years’ published accounts.
With the levels of data now available online, it has become effortless to find business details on companies and their people. And perhaps look at their outline credit score. If they are collecting County Court, Judgments CCJ’s, its no point continuing your research.
Look at their website, blog, social media posts to see if they have a progressive attitude to business, how many of the company are on Linked In do they have a business page on Linked In.
Do they publish content regularly; check out their articles, and post for insight. We all share high levels of information in today’s world; that little bit of insight may just help you further down the road in a conversation; build your knowledge.
Look at how active they are as a company, how busy are their key people. Don’t just focus on the decision-makers; don’t disregard any stakeholders & influences you come across as they may play a future part further down the road.
On their website, look at the testimonials; how resent are they? Do you know the person that gave the testimonial? Perhaps look them up on Linked In.
They may be happy to connect, after all, a personal testimony or referral is worth gold.
Now, while you have been doing your research for Means and Motive, you are very likely to have discovered the key people. However, don’t worry if you haven’t as you always have the option when you make contact to ask, “Can you please help me am I talking to the correct person” when you move to make the first contact.
Linked In the 2020 MMA tool
Who do they know you know, now don’t get over-keen, at this point and start connecting with their people and then start hitting them up straight away with a pitch, this is foolish and self-destructive.
Connect definitely, (always, always do a personal invite) and then thank them for connecting, but let’s keep your powder dry for a little longer.
Do you have some content you can share of value?
Now you have a connection the doors are open, widen your research on them and their connections, a basic bit of early Linked In life is to first connect with your presents and past colleagues.
Website and social media insights
Be cautious of a company website that just lists company logos as customers the entries say little or nothing, and can be an ego thing and can also be historical.
Also is there any indicator of someone living the company recently, has someone jumped ship and taken some of the accounts and contacts with them.
And just some times, it can be an indication of their vulnerability as they fail to build deep and healthy relationships. Are there indicators of their business drivers? Are they proactive or reactive as a company?
Now back, when I started using M.M.A., we were in the realm of sales-centric, the worlds moved on. With the internet generation laying down the foundation for the shift to customer-centric, today’s buyers are far more informed and knowledgeable.
Blended with our cultural attitude shifting towards a risk-averse perspective in the last couple of decades, the value we placed on life, but also business, has changed.
Business leaders are now looking to be active listeners and support their peoples from the bottom up. The direct result is that many companies have created the buying committee as a vehicle for their purchasing.
The buying committee is a reality in many buying decisions both positively and negatively, regardless of the stats you read whether you go with 38% or 50% of deals ending in NO DISCION.
So when I wrote that taking notice of the stakeholders and influencers under the listing of motive is essential, I was not attempting to be politically correct.
Investment ‘V’ Time and effort
So back to the bit of string how much time should you invest in M.M.A while for me that a tick value issue, balanced against the restraints of your role, but for me, if I am working on deals of £10k I would invest approx—thirty minutes to one hour.
And if it had a £50k potential I might invest between 1 to 2 hours. But after running this process for three decades its become second nature. But as in all learning, the more you do it, the quicker, confident, and competent you become.
Ultimately the allocation of time you advocate for your research is down to you and your manager; for some its short amount of time for others, it’s too much.
But for most, especially those in the SME category of business, they will still be doing the process as salespeople have done for years.
However, one thing is definite; over research offers only one gain; it allows you to buy into your Procrastination.