“The evolution of prospecting is not due to the number of communication methods available, but rather to the shift in who has the knowledge.”

Mark HunterHigh Profit Prospecting

Anyone who thinks that cold calling is dead is hopelessly naive. However, anyone that thinks that prospecting has not changed has their head in the sand. This chosen ignorance will eventually catch up to their bank accounts.

How has prospecting changed? Certainly the way we communicate has changed. Email, instant messaging, and social networks are new communication realities in our world.

All of these new channels of communication are a distraction from the real point. The heart of the issue is that buyers don’t need sales people in the same ways they used to. With information readily available from search engines and recommendations easily procured from social networks, sales reps are no longer the sole brokers of knowledge and advice.

Thus, prospecting needs to change. While sales reps will always need to interrupt potential buyers, the way they go about it needs to involve more substance.

Larry Levine, author of Selling From the Heart, says it well: “You must get VALUABLE before you get VISIBLE.”

Today’s sales people need to be able to prospect with value. Yes, they need to be “visible” by executing a consistent prospecting strategy. But that prospecting strategy needs to include “value”. If you work diligently at prospecting but the potential buyer does not see the value you bring you’ll get vetted.

A great prospecting strategy includes two words: Consistency and Credibility.

You must execute a prospecting strategy consistently. I wrote about this recently in Consistent Execution: The Secret For Revenue Growth.

You also need to build credibility. How do you do this:

Interrupt With Insight

In your prospecting, share ideas that are relevant and helpful to potential buyers. Bring ideas that could help their business. If you don’t have something valuable to share, why would they give you a moment of attention? If you do have something valuable to share, you greatly increase your chance of getting the attention you want.

Build Your Value

Bringing insights requires you to build your value. How do you build your value? You educate yourself. Turn off the radio and fire up a podcast (I like Selling From the Heart!). Instead of listening to the sports news, pull up an audio book. (I love Scribd). For one low monthly subscription I get access to all kinds of audio books!) Attend webinars. Watch videos. Take online courses. You can even crack open a book. Everything you do to educate yourself should be aimed at adding more value to your clients.

Communicate Your Value

You need to let prospects know you can add value. How do you do this? The best place to start with with your webpage. Every sales professional has a webpage–it’s their LinkedIn profile. Make sure your social presence positions you as an expert that adds value. Share what you are learning. Write about it. Record some videos.

Take Action!

Do you still need to pick up the phone? Yup. Just like I have to go to the gym and do my reps if I want to be healthy, any rep that wants a healthy income needs to prospect. However, you need to make sure when you pick up the phone or send the email that there is substance behind your activity. Do this hard work and you’ll set yourself apart from the vast majority of empty suits that are sitting in the office complaining that they’re not getting enough leads.

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