Good Prospecting Trumps Email Marketing Any Day of the Week
They’re certainly out there, but it’s hard to imagine that anyone actually enjoys prospecting for new clients.
Yet for most businesses – especially those that want establish themselves as a customer’s trusted technology provider – prospecting is the pathway to acquiring new clients.
William Ominsky, managing director of Clarity Channel Advisory Group, is no stranger to this practice, and he says an efficient prospecting pipeline is an essential asset for managed-service providers who spend much of their time taking care of their existing customers’ needs.
During an education session, part of the revenue and supplier portfolio track sponsored by Cyxtera at Channel Partners Evolution, Oct. 9-12, in Philadelphia, Ominsky will tackle that subject. For a preview, he spoke to us about prospecting strategies as well as his experience working for an MSP.
We have edited the transcript for length and clarity.
Channel Futures: Prospecting isn’t very fun. Why do MSPs need to do it?
William Ominsky: Finding new people to sell to is critical to the growth and success of any business. While it is possible to grow with a referral program and email marketing, the fastest and most consistent way to drive new revenues is actively targeting new clients through prospecting activities. Some of my largest and most profitable customers weren’t actively looking to buy, but were acquired because of a simple phone call and me asking some questions.
CF: What’s one tip for building a better prospecting pipeline?
WO: Gathering information is probably one of the easiest and most useful things you can do to build a better pipeline. Make every interaction count by knowing the data points you want to collect (when their contract expires, how many employees, what software they use, etc.) and asking questions. Don’t stop here though. You need to actually capture responses and be able to search and sort them in your CRM. Using this data, you can have more intelligent conversations with your prospects when you finally do get in front of them, or you can use it for targeted campaigns with a higher close ratio, rather then sending something generic.
CF: Could you share an example from your career of prospecting done right?
WO: When I was just starting my sales career and really had no training at all, I was given a desk, a phone, a set territory and a database that was mostly empty or incorrect. So I just started dialing as many numbers as I could. I think my record was 155 calls in a day, but usually I aimed for 100 before I would leave the office for the night.
One of the companies in the database was a church — Congregacion Leon de Juda. With a name like that, I really wanted to check out the building because I was betting it had some cool Boston architecture. With this in mind, nothing was going to stop me from getting an appointment so I could get out of the office and check them out. Eventually, I got the office manager on the phone (after about 20 calls over a few months) and asked if I could come by and introduce myself. I wasn’t trying to sell anything right now, but wanted to learn more about their church. She gladly accepted, but couldn’t promise more than a few minutes for an introduction and stated she was not the decision maker. I wasn’t going to let that stop me, and asked for a specific time to stop by and even sent an Outlook invite for 5 minutes which she accepted.
Meeting time comes, and I bring a folder with my business card and one or two marketing pieces ready to leave behind.
During my brief introduction I asked some basic questions that related to the office manager’s job, what was the hardest part about her job, if she could have or change anything what would she do, etc., and furiously wrote down every response. I was also luckily enough to really hit it off with her and eventually she got me a sit-down with the decision maker …
In meeting with the pastor, we reviewed how we could make the office function more efficiently, at a slightly lower overall cost, with our solution based on the information the office manager previously provided. She became my champion in this sale and ended up doing a lot of work behind the scenes to get what she wanted and help me close the deal. Not only was this my biggest revenue deal at the time, but the commission check was north of $10,000. For a new guy in his 20’s, this was a huge win for me, not to mention they eventually referred me to five more churches in the area which all ended up becoming clients.
Why do I tell this story? There are some easy techniques that make a big difference which I just stumbled upon. One, don’t give up after a few calls; it can take nine or more calls to get to the decision maker. Two, when prospecting, the goal is not to sell, but to gather information and book a meeting. Three, building rapport and understanding buying motivations is crucial to selling, especially when someone isn’t actively looking.
CF: What do you hope the audience will take away from your talk?
WO: By attending my session you should expect to take away skills and practices you can inject into your existing client-acquisition strategy that are easy to implement and will return real results.