If you read our recent blog (It’s Time to Prospect and Sell Your Ass Off), you know there are going to be unprecedented challenges to revenue growth in 2022. Whether connecting with a new audience in a new vertical or expanding your reach within current spheres of influence, making new connections is critical to the sales success necessary to overcome those challenges.
Chances are pretty good that you’re going to have to look for opportunities in places you never have before. As you expand your target market, it’s going to be more critical than ever to remind yourself that not every client is a good one. Of course, this means you need to be selective with whom you start conversations.
Know what/whom you're looking for
To be clear, I’m talking about taking an expanded approach to identifying and approaching suspects, not prospects. What’s the difference?
A suspect is someone you have identified with whom you think you'd like to do business. They don't become a prospect until they know of your interest and agree to participate in the conversation at some level.
You understand the need to follow a sales process (you do, don't you?) to convert prospects to new clients. Similarly, you need to have a process and strategy to convert suspects to opportunities. This must start by defining what your ideal suspect looks like from both a demographic and psychographic perspective.
Demographic features to consider:
- Size of the account
- Geographic location
- Financially stable
Psychographic features to consider:
- Open to a long-term relationship
- Looking for an advisor, not a vendor
- Believe in the value of providing benefits to their employees
- They focus on overall cost, not merely price
With your ideal suspect clearly defined, remind yourself of who the influencers are that will ultimately help decide whether you get hired. At a minimum, you need to be prepared to address the concerns of the owner, CEO, CFO, and head of HR. But never assume there aren’t other influencers for any particular opportunity. Understanding your collective audience is critical to developing the right conversion strategy.
Where will you find them?
With an understanding of whom you're looking for, think about where you are likely to cross their path. Sure, this could be a physical location such as a networking or association event. But you also have an opportunity to cross their virtual path on LinkedIn, your blog, their inbox, etc.
Especially when it comes to their virtual paths, be prepared to show up regularly and in a way that shows you understand them and their challenges. Building trust and familiarity with you is critical to opening their minds to eventually having a conversation with you.
If you join a group of some sort (SHRM, chambers of commerce, fraternal organizations), don’t do it for the primary purpose of prospecting. Join these groups, first and foremost, because you believe in their mission. A shared passion for a mission is a great starting point for business relationships. Joining with a predatory mindset will be evident and make for an uncomfortable experience for all.
Give them a reason
Prospecting and selling are difficult and scary—and perhaps nothing is more nerve-wracking for a producer than making that initial contact.
You fear rejections. You don’t want to interrupt. You don’t want to piss anyone off.
Stop thinking of your initial approach as an interruption and look at it for what it is: an offer to share valuable businesses ideas, because:
- Your clients are better off working with you than if they didn't.
- You and your team have ideas, solutions, and strategies to make other businesses more successful.
That being the case, you have a responsibility to let suspects know how you may be able to help them.
As you frame your approach, it’s essential to remember that potential prospects aren't interested in any of your products or solutions until they understand they have a problem that would make the product/solution necessary. This cold call script will help explain what I mean:
Hello. My name is (xxxxx). I’m a benefits advisor with (agency name). I’m going to be completely up-front: This is a cold call.
I TOTALLY understand why you may want to hang up.
OR, if you're feeling generous today, maybe you'll allow me 30 seconds to explain why others are willing to listen a bit longer?
Those who decide to meet with us do so because they are frustrated with their benefits program in 1 of 3 all-too-common areas (can be changed, of course):
- Their costs are out of control.
- They are terrified of hidden compliance exposures.
- Or they don't feel their employees understand or value the benefits they provide them.
Of course, maybe you are one of the few who have figured this out?
But, if you aren't one of those rare few and would love to have an answer in one of the three areas, which would it be?
Open your mind to open theirs
Take your insurance blinders off for these conversations. Your initial approach with suspects may be with issues that may not seem to have anything to do with benefits. Right now, almost every employer is struggling with employee attraction/retention, supply chain, and COVID-related challenges. These can prove to be great door openers.
Bottom line: To grow the way you want and need to in 2022, be prepared to look for opportunities in places you haven’t looked before and demonstrate the value someone would receive by having a conversation with you.
May 2022 be your most successful year yet, my friends!
Photo by adam121