Sales prospecting can be defined as, “…the process of identifying, engaging and cultivating potential new business prospects.” This definition assumes:
- Identification of your target market (i.e. knowing who your customers are and where can you find them).
- “Engagement” with new prospects. (i.e. employing outreach to interact with prospects so progress can occur).
To be the most effective, sales prospecting must seek a short term and a long term goal in the same moment. As prospects are engaged, two essentials emerge:
- Sales prospecting must have a short term focus on “current interest.” Any prospecting activity should leave open the possibility that a potential new prospect has interest in buying today. As such, every interaction with a new prospect should provide a open pathway to a current sale.
- Sales prospecting must also be “future interest” focused. Every interaction with a prospect should be mindful that, though a prospect may not be interested today, a relationship is being formed so that if the prospect wishes to buy in the future, the door is left open.
Both elements must be kept in mind so that you don’t miss either a current or a future opportunity. But, of these two elements, the second is the least obvious. The key is being ready during an interaction with a prospect (i.e. in person or on the phone, etc.) to instantly assess which road you are headed down. Begin any prospecting interaction by seeking current interest. If current interest isn’t there, shift gears into focusing on future interest.
Embracing Both Current and Future Interest
All too often sales and small business people only focus on the short term sale. When a salesperson talks to a prospect and the prospect doesn’t become a buyer today, he or she drops the relationship. Doing so misses the opportunity to collect qualifying information and to establish an ongoing communication channel that will help promote sales in the future.
By making both current and future interest a priority, you can focus on making sales today and planting the seeds for new sales tomorrow. Hence, you will extract greater value out of your prospecting efforts and be better able to move your business forward over time.