Posted By Sales Empowerment Group on 01/24/2017 Sales Prospecting

5 Sales Prospecting Tips for Small Business

By: Brian O’Neill

5 Sales Prospecting Tips for Small Business

Five sales prospecting tips any small business owner can apply to keep the sales pipeline full plus download a handy sales prospecting checklist. 

Achieving success in a small business is no easy task. About one-third of small businesses fail within two years, and about half fail within five years. The industry of the small business — manufacturing, retail, food service, hospitality, and construction — has little statistical impact on these averages.

Adding revenue is an important part of keeping a small business in business, whether in the first two years, five years or 50 years down the road. But without the budget, training resources and technological sophistication of a large organization, how does a small company find prospects and keep its lead pipeline full? Here are five important tips for sales prospecting any small business owner can apply. 

1. Define Your Ideal Prospect

Many small businesses fail at prospecting because they try to be all things to all people. This approach waters down the sales message and leaves prospects cold. Better to define target prospects as clearly as possible, and then tailor the sales message to fill their needs. The challenge is to define the target narrowly enough to support an irresistible sales message and yet support your objectives for new business revenue. 

2. Script Your Pitch

Lay out your sales pitch along these lines:

  • The quick, high-impact value statement that makes prospects eager to learn more about your product or service.
  • Several high-level features/benefits that make you stand out.
  • More detailed information about your products/services for prospects that want it.
  • A strong offer, such as $100 off, a free in-house trial or a lifetime guarantee.
  • Prepared responses to anticipated objections. (Especially if you are selling to a tightly defined prospect, you should never be caught flat-footed.) 

3. Review Results, Test, Improve

After you’ve scripted your pitch, you are in a position to apply systematic analysis to your prospecting efforts. The first step is to collect the right data:

  • How many initial prospects were reached?
  • How many initial prospects ordered or reached the next stage of interest?
  • How many that reached the next stage ordered?
  • What are the most common objections?
  • What are the most difficult objections to overcome?

Use this data to evaluate the effectiveness of your pitch. If you are not reaching enough prospects, you may need to devote more time to prospecting, hire a sales prospector, or outsource some or all of the activity. If you are not getting many prospects deeper into the sales funnel, test different, stronger value propositions and offers. If certain objections are holding you back, consider different responses or make changes to your product/service/support. After making changes, continue to monitor results to assess impact. 

4. Leverage Your Network

New business comes most quickly and endures the longest when the relationship is built on trust. This is why networking is such an effective way to prospect. Take advantage of your personal and professional networks, and those of your staff to build a big reservoir of opportunities. Personal and professional networks can be surprisingly large these days, thanks to the mushrooming use of social media. Sources of prospecting opportunities include:

  • LinkedIn connections
  • LinkedIn groups
  • Twitter, Facebook, Instagram networks
  • Suppliers
  • Supplier referrals
  • Customer referrals
  • Industry peers
  • Friends and neighbors 

Some businesses go so far as to offer incentives for referrals — you’ll see this technique used frequently by car dealers. A referral program is worth trying if it can be efficiently tracked and if the incentive is big enough to motivate action. 

5. Don’t Give Up

Persistence is what separates success from failure in prospecting. You cannot give up after one or two contacts with the prospect. Consider:

  • The prospect may not be in the market — but will be in a month or two.
  • You caught the prospect at a bad time — but tomorrow could be a perfect time.
  • The prospect is skeptical — but after you demonstrate persistence, he or she won’t be.
  • The prospect is just the type of person who needs a lot of time to consider an option before making a change. 

Keep at it, and success will follow, even if you haven’t reached perfection in the first four areas! 

Author bio: Brian O’Neill and Sales Empowerment Group have helped the most innovative, fastest-growing businesses and Fortune 500 companies with sales consulting, sales training, sales recruiting, inside sales and a unique program called “The Interim VP of Sales Program.” O’Neill is also the author of several books available on Amazon. 


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