There’s a reason why the phrase “prospecting for gold” was coined.
Prospects are gold.
They can be nurtured into leads with the potential of becoming paying customers.
Without prospects, a business will have a difficult time sustaining itself. Thus, prospecting is an activity that should never end.
The question for business is, “Where can I find prospects?”
A prospect is an entity; a person, department, or an entire company, that could be interested in your business’ products or services.
Generally, prospects have a need or concern that they want addressed or resolved.
It may be that your business offers the right solutions.
Prospecting opens doors for these potential buyers to find your products and services.
Done correctly, prospecting creates opportunities that benefits both buyer and seller.
If you’re at a loss as to where you can find new prospects for your business, here are seven sources for you to consider.
- Business Forums, Trade Shows, and Networking Events
Business forums, trade shows, and networking events present perfect opportunities for prospecting.
These venues draw people with shared interests.
Think of it as a marketplace where buyers are looking for sellers who can provide the right products and services.
When you’re at these type of events, you must always have the following items in tow:
- Calling Cards
- Company or Business Profile
- Portfolio of Work
- Draft Copies of Contracts and Agreements
These events may function differently. In trade shows, you could get a booth for your business.
There are business forums where round-table discussions are encouraged. If there is an opportunity for you to speak about your business, take it!
The bottom-line is to stay active at these events. Mingle as much as you can. When prospecting, proper communication protocols must be observed. This means be a listener first.
Being a good listener allows you to fully understand the pain points of the prospect so you can frame or articulate the right approach to presenting your business’ value proposition.
Remember, your success at a networking event isn’t measured by the number of calling cards you collect.
Rather, it is based on the number of solid relationships you were able to establish.
An argument can be made that customer retention is more important than new customer creation.
This is because customers who remain loyal to your company do so because they are happy with your products and services.
Existing customer can provide you with a regular stream of recurring income through repeat purchases or by giving referrals.
Customer referrals are valuable because these are essentially testimonies that support your business’ value proposition.
A referral will hardly second-guess his/her decision to patronize your company especially if an existing customer gives a very compelling recommendation.
Be selective about the customers you plan to ask referrals from. Make sure it is someone you have built a good relationship with for at least one year.
How to ask for referrals? If you know the customer or client very well, ask him/her out for a quick cup of coffee. You could also send the customer an email then follow it up with a phone call.
Sometimes existing customers will make it easier for you by recommending clients to you on their own volition.
The lesson to be learned: Take care of your customers and they will return the favor!
- Create Engaging Content
Content marketing is a proven way of finding new prospects. Why?
Because people tend to follow businesses that consistently publish content that is usable, informative, and relevant to their needs and interests.
Content comes in many forms but blogging is widely considered to be its primary cornerstone.
Here are 4 helpful tips on how to write engaging content:
- Write for your audience, not for yourself.
- Write in an easy, conversational manner; avoid using technical jargon.
- Research your topics well; make sure these are of interest to your audience or addresses pain points.
- Long form blogs or those than exceed 2,400 words generate nine times more leads.
Email is an effective medium of communication because it gets your content where you want it: The Inbox.
This is one reason email marketing has become a mainstay in the digital marketing campaign strategy toolbox.
Success in email marketing lies in your ability to get people to voluntarily provide their email addresses. You can do this through blogging, social media marketing, and by including opt-ins for newsletters in your website.
The rules of content creation apply to email marketing as well.
Send your subscribers content that is usable, relevant, and informative. You can also use email to give existing customers preferential treatment.
For example, if you are in the real estate business, you can use email to send long-time clients special invites when pre-selling new properties.
- Optimize Your Content
You could hire the best writers in the business but if their content can’t be found, their efforts will not yield the desired results. If you want your content to be found, you should make sure it is optimized.
How do you optimize content? It should have the right keywords and these should be embedded strategically into the content.
Keywords are the words and phrases frequently used by people to launch a search query.
Web crawlers look for these keywords and index content that will appear in the Search Engine Results Page or SERP.
According to studies, the number one ranking in the SERP gets 33% of online traffic.
By comparison, positions number 2 and 3 garner 17.6% and 11.4% respectively. Meanwhile, position number 10 accounts for only 2.4% of online traffic.
Optimized content creates greater inbound traffic to your website. The higher the level of inbound traffic, the greater the chances of generating prospective leads.
- Provide Social Proof
How has your business benefited your customers or clients?
Social proof include case studies and success stories that show how your products and services were able to resolve the pain points and concerns of your end users.
These are powerful tools because they provide empirical or visual evidence on the effectiveness of your business offerings.
For example, supplement companies like to present “Before” and “After” photos or videos of customers who experienced great results with their products.
People who come across social proof tend to visit the websites of the business proprietor.
Image-heavy social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest are valuable sources of social proof.
Run searches on your products in these platforms. If you find positive social proof, reach out to the subscriber and request permission to use his/her content.
- Social Media
Social media accounts for more than 3 billion users every day. It is a viable resource for prospecting high-quality leads.
It is no longer just platforms for sharing cat videos and photos of your lunch.
If you can harness the power of social media, you can open up streams of prospecting channels for your business.
Here are 5 useful tips you can use to maximize the prospecting power of social media:
- Choose only 2 to 3 social media platforms. This will make it easier to manage and track campaign performance.
- Stay active; on Facebook, you should post 1 to 2 times every day.
- Include a link that leads back to your website.
- Engage actively within your community; join focus groups that cater to your industry. Focus groups are excellent sources for prospects and even referrals.
- Respond to all comments even the unfavorable ones. Remember that all relationships start with engagement. If the comment is negative, use engagement to turn it into a positive.
- Connect with influencers. These are people who are recognized as experts and valuable resources in your industry. Ask permission if you can share their content. They may reciprocate by sharing yours to their followers.
Prospecting isn’t just about finding a potential lead. What you want to do is to find the best-fit potential lead for your business.
On the side of the seller, you are prospecting for buyers who best fit your ideal customer profile. The best-fit potential lead is a person or company whom you can build a long-term relationship with.
Take your time when prospecting.
Contrary to popular belief, this is not a numbers game.
Successful prospecting is about quality of contacts not quantity.
Your goal should be to find engagements that you can nurture into sustainable relationships; one that mutually benefits the interests of both parties over the long-term.