Channel Partners

June 18, 2008

4 Min Read
Channel Coach: Improve Your Prospects

In the late 1840s and 1850s, more than 300,000 men, women and children flocked to the Golden State in the hopes of finding gold. Today, there are as many people prospecting in the market for telecom products and services, and much like California during the Gold Rush, this market is truly ripe and ready for picking. As Yosemite Sam would say: There’s gold in them thar hills!

In my last column, I discussed the importance of qualifying which prospects were the best ones with whom to spend your time. This month, I address identifying these key prospects, keeping in mind that uncovering the best prospects for your products and services isn’t always obvious or easy. With all the competition vying for a slice of your prospect’s telecom spend it is important to develop a plan for determining the best places to mine your “gold.”

A good place to start is by identifying your strengths and differentiators, both as an individual salesperson and as an organization. Start by reviewing where you have had success in the past. Ask yourself some key questions such as:

• What markets do you know best?

•Are you experienced with certain types of businesses or industries, such as banks, professional services or realtors?

•Are there groups of similar business types in your base?

•Are there certain products and services that your business provides to them?

Another great place to find prospects is in areas that are underserved. Everyone goes to the most active territories with multiple companies calling on the same prospects. It might require some digging, but be on the lookout for businesses that aren’t called on by multiple vendors. Finding the industry or segment that very few know about and even fewer have worked is the ideal situation. Look to uncover unique situations, such as a territory or an industry that doesn’t have much traffic or a target market segment that would benefit from your unique solution.

As soon as you identify the customers you are seeking or the market segment they are in, begin developing your products around them, being certain to meet or exceed their needs. Let’s say you look at your customer base and determine you have a significant number of law offices. The next step would be to make appointments to meet with several of these clients and ask them to be candid and specific about why and how they use your services and the benefits they derive from their use. Also ask about changes or enhancements that you can make to really improve your offerings and find out what additional products they need that you can provide.

Next, make whatever changes and product improvements you can to be sure your offering is the best it can be. If your law firm clients tell you that your product helps them track and control time and has resulted in improved client billing accuracy, you’ve found the gold nugget that other law firms would be seeking. Having real information that your product has resulted in tangible benefits would be a key selling point in prospecting for firms in that industry. If it works really well for your current clients, then its potential to work just as well or even better for potential clients is real and becomes a differentiator in your dialogue with these firms.

Next on your list is to have the right tools for the job. The ’49ers didn’t have the kinds of tools we have available today but they brought the best tools they could find to the task and they had different tools for each stage of prospecting. Similarly, you would benefit from customizing your collateral materials to fit the markets you are prospecting. There is no need to overspend in this area, but choose the best materials you can afford to present your company and your solution in the best light possible. Each piece needs to convey a clear and concise value proposition for the target market. For example, your value proposition for law firms may sound something like this: “Several of our law firm clients are using our system to improve their billing accuracy, increase customer satisfaction and increase revenue.” Similarly, your materials should highlight this benefit.

Following these tips will go a long way to finding the gold in your prospecting efforts. Here’s to hoping your efforts really “pan out.”

Bill Taylor is president of Corporate Ladders, a management, sales and business development consulting and coaching firm specializing in technology, telecom, Internet, health care and financial services companies.

Got Questions?

Ask the Channel Coach. Send your questions to [email protected]. Please include your name, city, state and a phone number where you can be reached. First names and locations only will be published.

Hear the Channel Coach share lead-generation tips in the session, Full Funnels: Strategies for Healthy Lead Generation, at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Boston, Aug. 18-20.


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