How to prospect

We present you with tips and methods for prospecting in increasingly difficult conditions linked to new legislation against telemarketing and mass mailing. Prospecting has always been difficult, now it’s an art. Business development through inbound and outbound marketing Outbound marketing consists of pushing products towards customers, a push strategy that corresponds to prospecting. The main…

We present you with tips and methods for prospecting in increasingly difficult conditions linked to new legislation against telemarketing and mass mailing. Prospecting has always been difficult, now it’s an art.

Business development through inbound and outbound marketing

Outbound marketing consists of pushing products towards customers, a push strategy that corresponds to prospecting. The main vectors are the telephone, e-mail and networking.

Inbound marketing is all about getting the word out about your products and services, so that customers come and ask for them. Inbound marketing is based on creating demand through social networks, influencers and advertising. It’s a strategy that’s becoming increasingly necessary in the face of new laws blocking B2C consumer prospecting.

How to prospect by phone

Telephone prospecting is still the best way to develop the business market, but it has become very difficult to contact consumers, who are protected by new regulations and often refuse to answer when they don’t recognize the number calling them.

Mistakes to avoid:

  • Asking “How are you?” when you don’t know the customer is unprofessional.
  • It’s aggressive to talk down to the customer
  • Calling customers by their first name is done in English, but not in French.
  • Read your sales script: it’s easy to understand
  • If you talk without letting the customer interact, he’ll eventually hang up.
  • Calling from a noisy room

What to do

  • Schedule call slots
  • Write a call script, test it, improve it.
  • Find a way to motivate the calls – tell yourself, for example, that the next one will be the big one.
  • Call each customer as if it were the only one of the day, even if you do a hundred a day.
  • Show that you’re happy to talk to him and tell him that he’s the one you wanted to contact.
  • Briefly introduce yourself, your name, your speciality
  • Describe the current market in your field, its changes and evolution, and ask your contact how they are affected by them.
  • Point out the advantages of meeting with you to learn about the changes, and how you can protect yourself from them and benefit from them.
  • Offer a choice between a real meeting or a videoconference lasting 30 to 45 minutes.
  • Confirm the meeting with the key details: place, time, and enter them in your diary.

Adapt this framework to your business and use a CRM adapted to prospecting.

I repeat, it’s still the most affordable and effective way to develop the business market.

How to prospect with door-to-door canvassing

Knowing how difficult it has become to call individuals on the telephone, door-to-door canvassing is back in vogue, and is also effective in B2B. I myself have had the opportunity to test it and compare it with the telephone.

The difficulties

  • Very physical in suburbs or industrial zones, because the easiest way is to park your car and systematically do it on foot, zone by zone, street by street.
  • Painful in winter, you have to be well dressed, sometimes take off your heavy boots or stand on the landing in the cold so as not to soil your interior, then leave again if you get “thrown out”. You need to be in high spirits!
  • If you’re visiting a company, ask for the toilets so you can freshen up and run your face under the water before meeting your prospect.

What to do

  • If you can, opt for office buildings or towers: you’ll avoid the vagaries of the weather and see more customers, because they’re closer together.
  • Bring a pad of paper and a ballpoint pen to take notes. Avoid ink in the rain!
  • Be systematic, turn by turn, street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood.
  • Enjoy discovering places and worlds you never knew existed. I have to admit, it’s a very satisfying experience, and you make some unexpected acquaintances.
  • You’ve got nothing to lose, and you might just be lucky enough to make a great discovery!
  • When someone opens up to you, it’s the first few seconds that are the most important: be natural, friendly and smiling. You’ve got 4 seconds to break the ice!
  • Praise the interior in a spontaneous, real way: the décor, the view, the location. Take a genuine interest in the person you’re talking to, not only for your own sake, because it’s more pleasant for you, but also because it makes it easier to get in touch.
  • Ask for the name of the person in charge or the decision-maker, offer to meet with him/her immediately, or write down his/her contact details.
  • If you’re lucky enough to meet the decision-maker, follow the classic sales steps and use the sales technique best suited to your business.
  • Take notes after each meeting. We always think we’ll remember who we’re talking to, and that there’s no need to take notes. Nothing could be further from the truth! After twenty or so contacts per half-day, you end up mixing everything up. Make sure you write down everything legibly, which isn’t always easy in the rain or snow. Try to pick them up in the lobby of the organization or building you’re visiting.
  • During lunch or dinner, enter your notes into your CRM.

Paradoxically, despite the travel time, you can talk to almost as many people as on the phone, and each contact is stronger.

How to prospect through networking

Networking means building up a network of contacts and friends to offer them our services. Networking is based on trust and the exchange of privileged services.

How to network

  • Determine what you want to offer and how you can help. Networking is a give-and-take in a closed circle.
  • Choose your preferred targets, those who can give you something.
  • Join the organizations and clubs that bring together these decision-makers and the wealthy, and avoid the pointless associations that waste your time.
  • Discuss and sit down with the decision-makers, but avoid your friends – you already know them.
  • If you’re at a match, it’s not the match that counts, but the relationships you make during the match.
  • Don’t be aggressive, put the fun and the relationship with your contact first. It’s just an opportunity for you to see your contact again later to suggest something.

Good networking means developing a network of contacts who trust you and whom you can call when you need them.

Remember these two key networking principles:

  • You have to ask to get
  • You have to know how to give in order to receive

How to prospect with mailings

Prospecting by mass mailing has become virtually impossible due to consumer protection laws and related penalties.

However, you can contact your customer under certain conditions that vary from country to country, such as having a commercial relationship with them and offering an unsubscribe link.

We continue to receive many unsolicited e-mails, generally from foreign companies not bound by these regulations.

How to prospect by e-mail

  • Contact your customers according to the possibilities offered by the rules in force in your country
  • Inform about new products
  • Offer your new products or services
  • Give them the opportunity to unsubscribe from your newsletter

How to prospect with LinkedIn

Prospecting with LinkedIn is also possible. LinkedIn offers a professional subscription enabling us to send connection requests to members who are not yet part of our network, and to send them a message. It’s quite expensive, and has been used so often that one wonders about its effectiveness.

What to do

  • Customize
  • Keep your message short and to the point, with no more than 4 or 5 lines.
  • Suggest a real or virtual meeting
  • The most effective way now: don’t send a Linked message to annoy the person you’re talking to. Instead, get their e-mail address from LinkedIn and send them a personalized e-mail.

The future of prospecting

Although made more difficult by regulations, especially in the consumer market, prospecting remains the best choice for developing your business network and contacting companies. For the consumer market, I recommend complementing it with inbound marketing and pull strategies.

Jean-Pierre Mercier