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Strategic Prospecting: Using the Principles of Stand-Up to Prospect Effectively

In this article, we are going to show you the connection between writing stand-up comedy and prospecting. We will cover prospecting math, sourcing, and keeping prospects warm.

1. Prospecting math. When it comes to stand-up, you want people to laugh every 10-15 seconds; therefore, if you performed a 5-minute stand-up set, you would need at least 20-30 jokes. This numerical goal informs when your material is ready for the stage. Regarding sales, you need to know how many prospects you need to reach your sales goal. Let's walk through prospecting math.

First, start with your new client goal (A). Next, estimate your win rate in finals presentations (B). These numbers will inform the number of finals pitches needed to reach your goal (C). Next, estimate the percentage of clients will select you for a finals pitch presentation (D). These numbers will provide you with the number of unique client meetings required to meet your goals (E). Lastly, estimate what percentage of cold or warm outreach will result in a meeting (F). These final two numbers will enable you to estimate the number of prospects required (G). In the case below, you will need 800 individual prospects to reach your goal.

You might be thinking, "Steve, I only have five companies I can target because my industry doesn't have that many companies." If that's the case, you need to get creative in order to increase your prospect numbers. For example, instead of 1-2 names focused within a single department, find 7-15 names across different departments. Additionally, you could find 7-15 people outside the company that could provide introductions, such as former employees. You might be thinking, "This is ridiculous. I am not going to reach out to previous employees." If you had the motivation and mindset of Chris Gardner from the movie The Pursuit of Happiness, then you probably wouldn't care who you were reaching out to because your entire focus would be to win business and make money. What do you need to think about or what will inspire you to reach out to more people so you can meet and surpass your financial goals? That is a question you have to dig within to find, but you will unlock extreme potential if you find the answer. Lastly, if you are only focusing on one or two contacts, it puts all your eggs in one basket.

After you have your prospecting number, calculate how much time you need to build a prospect list, and then the time needed to reach out to those prospects multiple times. If my number were 800, this would take at least one to two days per week. Unfortunately, prospecting is usually the first task salespeople push off their to-do lists like kids who don't want to do their chores. It makes sense salespeople don't want to prospect because it's tiring, exhausting, and takes a lot of time before seeing the fruits of your labor. However, if you do not block out time, you will likely be in trouble come year-end.

2. Sourcing. When it comes to stand-up, you continuously have to be on the lookout for funny ideas. Joke sources include tv, social media, people watching, pet peeves, or real-life experience. Remember, prospecting sources are only ideas of people you should reach out to. Let's go through some cold and warm sources.

Cold sources include:

Crunchbase: Crunchbase is an online database of companies receiving funding from VC. This will introduce you to upcoming companies that also have money.

Local news: Being up to date on local news shows you care about the community and will give you ideas for conversation or interesting people in the community.

LinkedIn: Using LinkedIn, you can search for various prospect ideas, such as people who previously worked for a company. If you know what you are looking for, this is a powerful tool.

Twitter: Hashtags have changed the game for searching. For example, if you are focused on companies expanding internationally, search for #internationalexpansion #globalexpansion If you are focused on a specific area such as Toldeo, Ohio. Search #toledonews #toledobusiness. You may be surprised at the ideas you come up with.

Warm sources include:

Non-profit boards or School boards: Many successful individuals are involved in their children's school or local non-profits. They may sit on school boards or community non-profit boards. This can be a great way to get connected.

Retired executives: Retired executives have connections, free time, and are often happy to help.

Speak at industry events or host a webinar: If you speak in front of groups, people will come up to you after you talk.

Groups designed for networking: For example, business networking international (BNI), LeTip, or Rotary club. If it's not designed for networking, then getting introductions can be arduous or difficult. These groups thrive on making introductions.

3. Keeping prospects warm. The first draft of a joke typically isn't funny on stage when it comes to stand-up comedy. Consistent effort ensures the jokes will land on stage. The same goes for prospecting. Reaching out once rarely yields results; it takes consistency and persistence. Here are some ideas for keeping prospects warm.

  1. Systematize your process. Put your prospects in a spreadsheet and enter a day when you will follow up. Now you have a system in place and only have to sort by date of follow up.

  2. Give yourself permission to follow up. Most people don't want to be annoying, don't want to bug others, etc. Permit yourself to be persistent by putting a sentence in your email that says, "I figure you are busy, so I will follow up if I don't hear from you. "

  3. Create a list of things you can follow up with your prospects on. It can be a webinar invitation, an article you share, a personal life update, an answer to the question you hear from similar clients, or anything else. Next to their name, write five ideas for how you can keep the prospect warm. This forethought makes it easy to keep your prospects warm.

Wayne Gretzky said," you miss 100% of the shots you don't take." When it comes to prospecting, the same principle applies. If you don't have prospects, you can't hit your new business targets, so the greater the number of qualified prospects, the better your chances of hitting your goals. Go out there and evaluate how you can improve your prospecting strategy, whether increasing your discipline, spending more time, generating creative sourcing ideas, or keeping the prospects warm.

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