The Ten Commandments of Prospecting is a proven success formula for prospecting and selling success.

Commandment I - Make an appointment with yourself for one hour each day to prospect.

Prospecting, like anything else, requires discipline. Prospecting can always be put off until a later day when the circumstances will be better. I can assure you that the time to prospect will never be exactly right. Make an appointment with yourself each day to prospect.

commandment II - Make as many calls as possible.

Before prospecting, you should always take the time to properly define your target market. This way, you will only call the best prospects in the market. By calling the best prospects, every call will be a quality call since you will only call those prospects who are most likely to buy large quantities of your product or service. Make as many calls as possible during the hour. Since every call is a quality call, more is always preferred to less.

Commandment III - Make your calls brief.

The objective of the prospecting call is to get the appointment. You cannot sell a complex product or service over the phone and you certainly don’t want to get into a debate of some sort. Your prospecting call should last about two to three minutes, and should be focused on introducing yourself, your product, getting an understanding of the prospect’s needs so that you can provide them with a good reason to meet with you, and, most importantly, getting the appointment.

Commandment IV - Be prepared with a list of names before you call.

Not being prepared with a list of names will force you to devote much, if not all, of your prospecting hour to finding the names you need. You will have been busy and will feel as though you worked hard, but you will have made no calls. I recommend having at least a one-month supply of names on hand at all times.

Commandment V - Work without interruption.

I recommend that you not take calls and not entertain meetings during your prospecting time. Take full advantage of the prospecting learning curve. As with any repetitive task, the more you repeat the task during a contiguous block of time, the better you become. Prospecting is no exception to the rule. Your second call will be better than your first, your third better than your second, and so on. In sports, they call this getting in the groove. You will find that your prospecting technique actually improves over the course of your prospecting hour.

Commandment VI - Consider prospecting during off-peak hours when conventional prospecting times don’t work.

Conventional cold-calling hours are between 9AM and 5 PM. Set aside one hour each day during this period to prospect. If conventional cold-calling hours are not working for you, consider switching or supplementing your prospecting time by prospecting during off-peak hours. Some of your best work might be done between 8 and 9 AM, 12 and 1 PM, and between 5 and 6:30 PM.

Commandment VII - Vary your call times.

We are creatures of habit; so are your prospects. In all likelihood, they attend the same meeting every Monday at 10 AM. If you cannot get through at this time, try calling them at other times during the day or on other days. You’ll be amazed at the results. The next commandment discusses tracking your calls and call times.

Commandment VIII - Be organized

I use a computerized contact management system, and I strongly suggest that you do as well. The contact-management system you choose should allow you to record a follow-up call three years from tomorrow with no more difficulty than it would be to record one for tomorrow.

Commandment IX - See the end before you begin

In his book,The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, Steven Covey tells us to see the end before we begin. He is, in effect, telling us to establish a goal and then develop a plan to achieve that goal. This advice works well in prospecting and business development. Your goal is to get the appointment and your plan (your cold call script) should be designed to achieve your goal.

Commandment X - Don't stop

Persistence is one of the key virtues in selling success. I have often read that most sales are made after the fifth call and most salespeople quit after the first.

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