The key to your success in the world of sales is increasing the number of meetings you are granted by prospective clients. Developing an effective prospecting process can be the difference between life and death in your sales career. For me, the goal of prospecting is simply getting to a meeting. Period. The goal of prospecting is not to sell anything. I am just hoping to meet with a client via phone or in person for 20 minutes. If you are selling during the prospecting phase you will greatly reduce your success. Over the course of 25 years in the sales and marketing business I have seen many prospecting plans from many unique angles. I have identified five factors in the prospecting process that will increase your chances of being granted a meeting with a prospective client – I call this my T.A.R.G.E.T. prospecting tool. I use this tool every day in both writing my prospecting emails and leaving voicemails for my prospects. I will break it down into six pieces for you; each piece builds on the previous.
The T in T.A.R.G.E.T. stands for “time”. A person’s time is highly valuable to them, each and every day. The main reason that more prospects do not grant you access to present to them is the simple fact that many other sales people have wasted their time. It is imperative that you focus on NOT wasting their time in your prospecting emails and voicemails. You want to articulate that you realize other sales people may have wasted their time. But, in doing so, be careful not to sound like all the other sellers that also emailed them that day. An often over-used phrase in prospecting emails is “I know that your time is valuable.” Or, “I want to be respectful of your time.” These two phrases are common and un-authentic. Instead, I want you to consider phrases like, “I promise not to waste your time.” Or, “ I’m sure other sales people in the past have wasted your time.”
The A in T.A.R.G.E.T. stands for “authentic”. Showing that you are authentic is critical in breaking the ice with someone you do not know. People that are authentic are not afraid to admit their faults. People that are authentic are more focused on others then themselves. People that are authentic truly want to help you. I would ask you to consider phrases in your prospecting emails and voicemails like, “I truly feel that this idea will benefit you.” Or, “I have seen firsthand how this has benefited my other clients.” Or, “I have three clients like you that are seeing solid success working with us.” Or, “I fully recognize the fact that you do not know me.” Your authenticity is also further driven by your focus on all the points in the T.A.R.G.E.T. system I am proposing to you.
The R in T.A.R.G.E.T. stands for “relevant”. There is nothing worse that receiving an irrelevant, generic sales email from someone you do not know. I am amazed that companies still continue to use this approach as a prospecting tool. It does not work unless you email thousands and thousands of prospects, and even then it is hit and miss. Instead, I want to prove quickly that I am relevant to my prospect by pointing out something from their website, company Facebook® page or their profile on LinkedIn®. I recognize that this might come across as creepy if it is not handled properly. For example, “before reaching out to you, I was doing some research on your website and saw that you have recently moved into the aviation industry.” Or, “while researching your company, I saw on your LinkedIN profile that we both worked for ABC Company many years back.” Or, “in preparing to contact you, I saw on your company’s Facebook page that you’re promoting the XYZ product right now.“ Generic does not work. Relevant always wins.
The G in T.A.R.G.E.T. stands for “go”. This premise is simple: I want my email to be focused. We want them to move forward, and we need to ask them to do so. I am not suggesting that you be pushy or arrogant, I am suggesting that you consider phrases like, “I truly feel that I can help you with ______. Can we chat for 20 minutes or less via phone Tuesday at 9am, 11am or 3pm EST?” It is important to understand that each component of the T.A.R.G.E.T. prospecting system is important.
The E in T.A.R.G.E.T. stands for “ethical”. Have you ever received an email with a great subject line, and then opened the email to discover that you were tricked? If you are anything like me, this makes you mad. I have never, ever applauded a sales person for tricking me. The subject line is often the ethical barometer by which you are judged – it sets the tone for your chances of getting your email opened or replied to. I recently wrote a blog called 10 Great Sales Subject Lines. Check it out at this link: http://salestrainingworld.com/sales-training/10-sales-email-subject-lines-to-get-an-open-read-and-reply/ Some of my favorite subject lines include the date that you want to meet the prospect and the name of your prospect’s competitor.
The final T in T.A.R.G.E.T. stands for tick-tock. Meaning, tick-tock like a clock. When is the best time to send a prospecting email? What time of day should you send an email to get a reply? 10am and 2pm are the most common times for meetings in corporate America so these would be two times to avoid. Your email will just not get the attention required to receive a quality reply, if any reply at all. What times of day are predictable for fewer meetings? 11:15am and 4:15pm. Why? Not many meetings are booked at 11:15 because they will potentially interfere with lunch. Not many meetings are booked at 4:15 because they will potentially interfere with happy hour. I have seen a dramatic increase in email opens and replies during these two times of day. Maybe you sell to an industry working on a different schedule, like restaurants or contractors? You will need to alter your email prospecting send times to coincide with times that your potential clients will be most attentive.
Let’s bring this T.A.R.G.E.T. blog to a final point: increasing the number of meetings that you are granted by prospective clients is the key to your success in the world of sales. Period. Without the meeting, you do not have a chance to present anything. Developing an effective prospecting process can be the difference between life and death in your sales career, and email is one step of that process.
Remember, if sales was easy everyone would be doing it.
About this blogger:
Ryan Dohrn is an award winning sales coach and offers sales training to thousands of sales executives each year. He is also an international motivational speaker and the author of the best selling sales book, Selling Backwards. Ryan is the President and founder of Brain Swell Media, a boutique sales training and sales coaching firm with a detailed focus on sales training and coaching for media and