A salesman speaking with a potential customer on the phone.

Sales Prospecting Tips and Techniques

Updated June 1, 2018 . AmFam Team

To be a successful business, you need sales. And to get sales, you need the right game plan and techniques to win over customers. These tips will help you and your salespeople source more leads, gain more customers and sell more of your products or services.

Sales is a numbers game. The more people you contact, the more deals you are likely to close. But actually getting in touch with a prospect requires a game plan.

It takes 18 dials to connect with a buyer, according to 2015 data from Redwood City, California-based research and advisory firm TOPO. Before the next outreach, implement these sales prospecting techniques to help your team land more clients in less time.

Book time to prospect every day. As a serial entrepreneur who has owned or worked for an investment bank and fashion e-commerce company, Codie Sanchez Baker takes a systematic approach to sales prospecting. Sanchez Baker, owner of CS Inc. in Dallas, explains his approach: “I make 40 calls a day. By the time I get to the 20th call, I have two clients, by the 40th call, I have four,” says Sanchez Baker. Make calls in the morning while you and your referrals are fresh. If the sale is not imminent, create interest, gather intel, and book an appointment.

Practice cold-calling in person. Sanchez Baker says the most effective cold calls are face-to-face interactions at trade shows, industry events, and conferences. Her take on how to perfect your sales pitch: “Practice makes perfect! Ten thousand reps are necessary for perfection,” she says. “Communicate with people who don’t know your story or your brand and see how good you are at convincing them to buy.”

Tap into your strategic network. How many contacts do you have in your smartphone? “Start sending text messages, making phone calls, and setting up meetings with people who are already predisposed to doing business with you because they know and trust you,” she advises.

Measure your interactions. What gets measured, gets managed. “If I own a Pilates Barre studio, first, I take an inventory of every single customer who comes in daily,” she explains. She then creates assumptions about potential clients and tracks them on an Excel spreadsheet. In this example, Sanchez Baker initially assumes that the clients are predominantly white females, ages 20–45, who earn $100,000 or more. Next, measure your initial assumptions with market research. You may find that half the class is actually Latina and the average age is 20–55, she says. Now, you can tailor your messaging and market where your competitors are marketing.

Leverage social media. Social is a great way to connect with prospects. “If you only do one thing, learn how Facebook Ads work,” says Sanchez Baker. Facebook Ads are targeted to a small, but highly curated audience that follows your page. If you own a sandwich shop, for example, you can post ads that target men who eat Italian subs and work within 15 miles of your location. “If you actively target your market using Facebook Ads, there are huge profit margins to be made,” says Sanchez Baker.

Effective prospecting comes down to finding the right clients. “You won’t need to nurture them because they will see the alignment if they know your story and value,” says Sanchez Baker.

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