The preliminary steps of defining your territory and identifying the prospects that inhabit it are really part of a larger ten-step prospecting system.
The following System inevitably leads to success. So, let’s hit the basic elements of The System. The steps in order of implementation are:
Step #1: Specify
This step involves defining your territory. Remember ice hockey has a playing surface. When you are on the ice, you are playing the game. Once you remove yourself from the ice, you no longer can score.
As mentioned in the previous chapter, we can’t be in all places and be all things. The smaller you make your territory, the faster you will understand what it is you need to do. The secret is to have enough people in your territory to allow the system to work effectively. This leads us directly to…
Step #2: Quantify
Start by finding all potential “suspects” within one mile of your main facility. Then, branch out slowly and methodically from this starting point, block by block, half-mile by half-mile, and you will become very knowledgeable about your territory.
As you quantify you should maintain a file to keep organized. You can build files several ways. Some are more antiquated than others, but the key is to do what works for you, whether that’s three-by-five cards or your computer. (I use a software package from Symantec called ACT.) Your file, once completed, is the most important information in your possession. It will help you focus on the task at hand, help you differentiate dead end contacts, sort out suspects from prospects, and save you countless hours when it is time to “touch bases” with your prospects. This is the way that you will position yourself miles ahead of your competition.
You also need to update your file systematically. Like just about everything else in life, this is easier said than done. If you can update your prospect file once a year, you are doing okay. Twice a year is time well spent. Treat it as a scheduled inventory day. The information can and does change. (The fastest way to let your prospects know that you’re not up to speed or sincere about doing business with them is by addressing your letters to somebody who left the company two years ago.)
Step #3: Identify
Identify which companies/people in your territory are actual “suspects.” You do this by developing a profile of your target customer. It is a real stress-buster once you figure out who you want to do business with. You don’t have the luxury of trying to do business with everybody. You have to devote your energies on targets who have a high probability of providing you with a return on your investment. You start this process by developing a profile.
To develop a target profile, focus on who you currently enjoy doing business with and who is producing revenue for your company. Make a list and jot down all those companies that you enjoy doing business with on the left side and companies you do not like working with on the right. You will probably find a pattern. The companies you like to do business with may be close to your company, travel internationally, pay on a credit card program, have a similar size, come from referrals, etc. If you look hard enough, you will see a trend.
Once you identify the type of organizations you like to do business with and compare them with the companies that turn you off, you can begin to concentrate your efforts on suspects who are “good-guys.” I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that you are spending a great deal of time trying to land a new client that, prior to developing a target profile, will fall on the wrong side of the page. Doesn’t it make more sense to spend your time developing more of the good guys? I think you can take this to the bank: The companies you enjoy doing business with will prove to be the most profitable relationships.
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