Brian Tracy Psychology of Selling

Prospecting

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Brian Tracy knows how to sell. He understands the psychology of sales, from both the sales professional's side and the customer's. Taking himself from "rags to riches" through sales has earned him the respect of sales professionals around the world. But it is his ability to teach others how to sell more effectively that earned him fame, wealth and the admiration of thousands, if not millions of sales professionals.

In this series of articles, Brian Tracy discusses the 7 Steps in a Sales Cycle, beginning with Prospecting. These steps are so effective that simply learning them and implementing them can drastically improve anyone's sales results.

The magic of these steps is that they are not only highly effective in a sales cycle but also in finding a sales job.

When it comes down to it, someone who knows how to prospect but chooses not to is no better off than someone who knows how to read but never does. So if you believe that prospecting is an important step in every sale and interviewing process, read on.

Prospecting 101

According to Tracy, prospecting is the process to distinguish between suspects and true prospects. He suggests looking for one or more of 4 customer traits to determine whether or not someone is a prospect. The first is that they have a problem that you or your product can solve. The second is that they have a present need, identified or still uncovered that your product could fulfill.

Third, you should look for someone who has a goal that your product or service can help them accomplish. Lastly, prospecting is looking for someone who has a pain that your product or service can relieve.

The process to find prospects and separating prospects from suspects can take many forms. Whether you choose traditional cold calling, telemarketing, direct mail, sales blitzes or any other prospecting method, the important thing is that prospecting is seen as a critical step in your sales career.

Prospecting is also a critical first step in job hunting. A common mistake that many job seekers make is spending their time and energy looking for a job with a company that does not have one or more of the aforementioned traits. For example, if a company has a solid sales force that is consistently delivering results, that company does not have a pain-point that your sales skills could relieve.

Doing some research on a list of businesses for whom you are interested in selling for allows you to employ a more targeted and professional approach to your job hunt. You will also be able to better qualify your "prospects" and, through research, identify some of their possible pain-points, corporate goals, and business challenges.

Questions are the Key

If you want to learn anything, you have to ask questions. Unless someone randomly begins telling you all about his business pains, goals, problems and needs; you will need to ask targeted questions to find out whether or not the business is a prospect.

But knowing how to ask questions, what questions to ask and what not to ask is a skill that takes practice and time to master. Many job seekers and rookie sales professionals, who believe in the value of asking questions, often ask either too many questions or questions that are not germane to the conversation.

Just because you can think of a question doesn't mean it should be asked.

Your Questioning Guide

To help you keep your questions on track, focus on using questions to uncover whether or not the person you are talking with has one of the 4 traits that Tracy suggests makes them a prospect. Ask questions about their goals and what challenges they are encountering as they strive to meet their goals. Ask questions about any problems they have in accomplishing whatever it is that your product or service is intended to do. Ask about how their current sales force is performing and what do they look when hiring new sales professionals.

Questions about anything that does not help you qualify a person or business as a potential employer or customer should be tabled until further into the sales or employment cycle.

While many would argue that questions should be used early and often in an attempt to build rapport, you may end up building rapport with someone with whom you will never sell to or work for. Nothing against building your professional network but using selling time for selling and networking time for networking makes more efficient use of your time.

A Final Word

Many sales professionals and job seekers hate prospecting. If they prospect at all, they see it as a "necessary evil." While you may never learn to love prospecting, you will realize an incredible improvement in your sales efforts, rewards and job satisfaction. Brian Tracy said that it was sales that took him from "rags to riches," and it all began with learning how to prospect.

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