In prospecting, your objective most often is to persuade a new customer to agree to meet with you face-to-face. To gain that commitment, you must convince the prospect that you are someone worth meeting. Every customer’s first major buying decision is whether to buy you—the salesperson. They’ll never decide to buy your products before they’ve bought you.

You must begin to “sell yourself” in your very first call on a new prospect.

Here is a quick, four-step prospecting strategy that allows you to begin “selling yourself” immediately.

1. Introduce yourself: Use your people skills to politely introduce yourself and your company. Say please, say thank you, and use the prospect’s name twice. Example:

You: Hello, (first and last name) please?

Answer: This is he/she.

You: Thank you, (first name). This is (your first and last name). I’m with (company).

2. Gain Attention: Make a very brief capabilities statement about your company. What is the most appealing thing you can say about your company’s offerings? Choose a capability that is fairly universal, so as not to eliminate any potential customers. Example:

My company, (its name), has created a remarkable software product that makes it extremely easy for our customers to create and maintain product catalogs, then produce them in just about any media from paper to Internet.

3. Create a Vision: What desirable goal can the prospect achieve due to the benefits of your products or services? Communicate that goal as vividly as you can. Example:

With our Catalog Builder software, customers are dramatically reducing their catalog costs and time requirements while growing their top-line sales due to the new markets they’re able to tap.

4. Ask for Commitment: Prepare to ask for what you want to achieve as a result of making this call—for instance, a face-to-face meeting. Example:

Would you be open to exploring how we might be able to reduce your costs and drive more sales toward your company?

Start with this basic approach. Tinker, refine, and document your results until you have tailored the most successful prospecting strategy for your individual situation.

Action Selling ® In Action   

A major supplemental-insurance company improved its prospecting results dramatically when it adopted a strategic framework, then documented and fine-tuned an approach that works best.

Before the company made that move, it assumed that a dismal batting average was simply a fact of life in prospecting. “We were having trouble getting in the door,” admits district coordinator Lisa Thompson, “But we didn’t realize that our ratio of calls to appointments was unnecessarily low until we implemented the Action Selling ® approach to prospecting.

“We were so focused on getting our message across before the prospect could tell us they weren’t interested that we missed the whole point of the call,” Thompson said. “Now that our calls are structured correctly [Introduction, Gain Attention, Create a Vision, and Ask for Commitment], we are crisp in our delivery yet focused on getting the appointment. Our ratio of calls to appointments is 38 percent better than before.”