The steps in prospecting are
(1) formulating prospect definitions,
(2) searching out potential accounts
(3) qualifying prospects and determining probable requirements, and
(4) relating company products to each prospect’s requirements.
1) Formulating Prospect Definitions
Prospective customers must have the willingness, the financial capacity, and the authority to buy, and they must be available to the salesperson. Salespersons waste time when they attempt to sell individuals who have neither need for the product or money to pay for it. Salespersons waste time if they try to sell to the wrong persons; so it is important to ascertain which persons in each firm Have the authority to buy.
Although individuals may qualify as prospects in other respects, they may be inaccessible to the salesperson. The president of a large corporation, for example, may need insurance and be willing and able to pay for it, but a particular salesperson may have no way to make the contact. In addition to meeting the stated requirements, there is other requirement Unique to each company’s customers.
Starting with data on the profitability of present accounts, any characteristics typical of profitable accounts but not shared by unprofitable accounts should be detected. These identifying characteristics ideally should be ones recognizable from information appearing in directories or lists.
Prospects in many businesses and professions, for instance, are readily identified from classified listings in telephone and city directories. Key characteristics that identify profitable accounts are assembled into descriptions of the various classes of customers, and these are the prospect definitions.
2) Searching Out Potential Accounts
Using the prospect definitions, the salesperson combs different sources for the names of probable prospects, or “suspect,’ as they are called. Sources of prospect information include directories of all kinds, news and notes in trade papers and business magazines, credit reports, membership lists of chambers of commerce and trade and manufacturers’ associations, lists purchased from list brokers, and records or service requests.
Other sources are responses to company advertising, sales personnel of no competing firms calling on the same general classes of trade, conventions and meetings, bankers and other “centers of influence’” and the salesperson’s own observations. Salespeople selling services, insurance,” for example, uncover prospects among their acquaintances; members of their professional, religious, and social organizations; and the referrals of friends.
Another source of prospects is the “endless chain” satisfied customers suggest, voluntarily or on request, other leads to the salesperson who served them.
3) Qualifying prospects and Determining Probable Requirements
As information is assembled on each tentative prospect (i.e.“suspect”), it is easier to estimate the probable requirements of each for types of products sold by the company. Prospects with requirements of each for the types of products sold by the company. Prospects with requirements too small to represent profitable business are removed from further considered, unless their growth possibilities show promise.
Even after tapping all readily available information sources, additional information often is required to qualify certain prospects, and personal visits by salespersons may be the only way to obtain it. These visits
may not bring in sales, but they save time, as prospects are separated from nonprospects.
4) Relating Company Products to Each Prospect’s Requirements
The final step is to plan the stratify for approaching each prospect. From the information assembled, it is usually possible to determine each prospect’s probable needs. From what the salesperson knows about the company’s product needs. From what the salesperson knows about the company’s products, their uses, and applications, he or she selects those that seem most appropriate for a particular prospect.
The salesperson’s presentation is now easy to construct, and it is tailored to fit the prospect. The salesperson should have clear ideas about specific abjections the prospect may raise and other obstacles to the sale that may be encountered. The salespersons ready to contact the prospect, the only tasks remaining are making an appointment, deciding how to open the presentation, and determining how to persuade the prospect to become a customer.