We all know we need to “prospect” to find new customers and bring new people into our business, but what really is prospecting? Well, according to Wikipedia, it’s a physical search for minerals, fossils, precious metals or mineral specimens. Basically, whether you’re a miner in the gold rush or a star salesperson in 2020, prospecting means looking for buried treasure.
As a salesperson, it’s your duty and privilege to choose with whom you do business. I’m sure you have a huge list of people you’d consider working with going forward. But you might also be making the all-too-common mistake of starting your prospecting with a random name on your list and coming up with mud and dirt instead of gold.
You can’t succeed by aimlessly prospecting a huge territory. But you also can’t waste all your time hunting down that one perfect person. To achieve the perfect balance, you need to split up your prospects list. You still have time to get organized.
Split It Up
Your first category consists of the basic minerals — your bread-and-butter prospects. These are people who you know you need to get on board as soon as possible, and you can because they make decisions quickly and easily. These simple people with their simple decisions can result in you getting the basic profit and revenue you want.
Next is the gold. The gold clients are your dream customers and the seemingly perfect people on your list. You know these clients will make a huge difference if they choose to come on board and do business with you.
Finally, you have your diamonds. Diamonds are your absolute utopian clients or partners that you can only conceive of if you let yourself dream big. These are the ones who keep you up at night, get you excited about your work and make your blood start pumping.
Narrow It Down
You might still have a whole lot of prospects on your list, even once you cut it down to the real gems. Some people tell me they have 200 or 300 people they’re prospecting, but when I ask them what they’re doing about it, they tell me they’re “casting their net.” What does that even mean? You’re better than that. The secret to getting more productivity out of your list is not working harder — it’s working smarter.
No matter how hard you work, I can tell you that you’re going to flounder if you try to properly handle more than 18 prospects at any given time. So don’t. Take your shortened list and carve out 18 great prospects — but not just any 18. Curate three lists of six names.
The first list should be six good “mineral,” bread-and-butter prospects to keep your business running smoothly. The second should be six gold prospects, the kind of clients who you’ll feel really stellar about securing. And finally, the third should be six utopian, out-of-this-world diamond prospects that drive you to do better every day you’re working. Seems more manageable than that list of 200 you had, right?
Shovel It Up
You’ve curated your perfect set of 18 potential clients — what do you do next? Well, it’s a good thing you have three different lists, because your strategy varies depending on what type of client you’re going after that day.
Your mineral prospects should be easy to find and easy to close. Ideally, you can churn through them pretty quickly. Your gold prospects might take more time to get in front of. You’ll likely have to work through multiple meetings and wait a few weeks or months to convince them to make the decision you desire. But once they tell you yes, you’ll know your hard work has been worth it. And you can expect your diamonds to be slow burns. They take time, energy and effort, and they’re probably already working with someone else. Winning a diamond isn’t about getting them to choose you. It’s about getting them to stop working with the people you want to replace.
The nice thing about your list of 18 is that it can rotate freely as you navigate your success. You closed a major client? Pour yourself a drink, enjoy the celebration, and then scratch them off your list and add a new name. Someone drops off or you realize they’re not worth your time? You can always replace them.
Give it a try. Put it into practice. If you get laser-focused on somebody that you want to join your dream team, you’ll find them. But if you keep looking for everybody and anybody, chances are you’ll find nobody.