Selling is the easy part!

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    Last week, I was completing initial sales training for a group of new reps at one of my top clients. A very young, enthusiastic rep came to me and said "Ed, I know how to sell, that is the easy part, my problem is finding people to sell to". It is something that I have heard often, but it is the part of the sales process that most people forget about and that is: Prospecting.

    How do great sales people get to be great sales people and stay great sales people? Simple - prospecting. It is the dirty word that most people, even decent sales people don't like. The notion of going out and finding "the business". Well for most companies, particularly small businesses, that is exactly what you need to do, "find the business"

    Here are a few tips that will help you find the business.

    1. Network - It's the easiest way to find the business, ask people you know. If you sell a consumer product, start with friends, family, former colleagues, etc. Then ask them who they know and sell to those people and ask those people and sell to their friends and so forth. The brilliant women who successfully sell, Avon, Mary Kay, and other products have this down to a science. If you have a good product and are committed to networking, you'll find this a valuable tool to "find the business".

    2. Customer referrals - Do you have current customers? Are they satisfied with you and your business? Then why not ask them to refer you to people they know? A warm lead (a referral from someone you know to someone you don't) is one of the easiest sales to close. Think about it, someone the prospect knows has given you a bid of confidence, you can even reference the product or service you've sold to the person that referred you and explain to the prospect how it might help them.

    3. Leads groups - Remember you are not the only person in the world trying to sell something. If you sell a product or service, find someone who sells a like product or service and trade customers or leads. For instance if you sell payroll to small businesses and you know someone who sells insurance to small businesses, chances are the type of customer you are looking for is pretty much the same. Give that person a list of your best customers and ask them for a list of theirs. You could also work in tandem to find customers neither of you know.

    4. Get out there - For most of us, "the business" doesn't walk through the door. If you want to find the business, be willing to put yourself out there a bit. If you sell pies, walk into the local diner and ask them for a chance to sell your pies at their diner. If you sell clothing, walk into the local boutique and ask them to sell your goods without the risk of buying up front, you just collect your cut of what they sell. If you build websites don't be afraid to walk into local businesses, find the owner or a decision maker and get them to agree to give you time to talk about your services. Lastly don't be afraid to pick up the phone and do some cold calling, remember the worst thing someone can say to you is no.

    One of my first sales mentors told me he figured out that on average 15 people said no to him before he got a yes. He told me he was excited when people told him no because that got him closer to the one who would say yes.