You Decide …
Prospect or Perish

As a self-employed professional, unless you’re a sales or recruitment professional, you’ve probably not had any formal sales training.

You might even hate marketing and sales.

And secretly wish that new clients, customers, and projects would just turn up and fall into your lap, without you having to get your hands dirty with all that grubby marketing and sales stuff.

Given a choice of getting out there and doing some prospecting for new business and swimming with sharks, you would choose the sharks.

You just want to get on doing your thing.

The brutal fact is the number one reason self-employed professionals (and business owners) fail is an empty pipeline; not enough sales opportunities, too few prospective clients, customers, or projects.

And the root cause of an empty pipeline is the failure to prospect.

If the mere thought of prospecting for new business causes a disturbance in the force, you’re not alone.

And it’s not your fault.

Even seasoned sales professionals hate prospecting.

There is no sugar coating it.

Prospecting sucks.

That’s why so many salespeople don’t do it.

And instead spend their time and energy seeking silver bullets, secret formulas, and shortcuts.

Or ignoring prospecting all together until it is too late.

The truth is this: as a self-employed professional, to get a reliable flow of new clients, customers, and projects, you must prospect consistently.

You’ve got to interrupt someone who is not expecting you to contact them – that is, you don’t have an appointment or they are not waiting for you to call or write – and with whom you are not currently engaged in a sales discussion.

With prospecting, no matter the circumstance, the simple fact remains that you are interrupting their day to talk about something you want them to hear, do, or buy, and you do not have a scheduled appointment with them to have that conversation.

There’s no way around this: to get the new clients, customers, and projects you most want, you must be willing to interrupt people.

The biggest and most lucrative prospects rarely respond to inbound marketing or social-selling efforts. They have no reason to engage that way.

Their accounts are so lucrative, there’s always a long line of salespeople knocking on the door.

The only way to start a sales conversation with these high-value prospects is to interrupt them.

But here’s the thing: we don’t like interrupting people.

It’s difficult and awkward to interrupt someone’s day.

You can’t control their response.

That unknown leaves us vulnerable and causes fear.

Your prospect’s initial reaction to being interrupted – usually a brush-off or reflex response in a not-so-friendly tone of voice – feels like rejection.

We’re social creatures at heart who desire to be accepted, so we avoid the risk of rejection.

These are the core reasons mediocre sales professionals, and most self-employed professionals, spend an inordinate amount of time finding excuses not to prospect.

The most successful prospectors become skilled at their craft like a pro athlete.

They make prospecting a daily habit.

They systematically develop their prospect database to build more effective and targeted lists.

As a self-employed professional, your situation is somewhat different from a professional salesperson, or a sales manager running a sales team.

You don’t need a high volume of prospects.

You don’t need many customers, clients, or projects to be booked solid.

In fact, it only takes one new client, customer, or project to end a dry spell.

Yet, most self-employed professionals do nothing when they run out of work.

They simply sit and wait for the Fairy Godmother to turn up.

Others post on Twitter, much around on Facebook, or update their portfolios.

These are not dollar productive activities.

They feel like work, they feel like progress.

But there’re not moving you towards getting your next client, customer, or project.

That stuff won’t get you paid.

It’s smoke and mirrors.

A distraction from the real work that’s actually needed.

On the other hand, prospecting leads directly to new business.

Even though you may not need many customers, clients, or projects, prospecting needs to be a cornerstone of your activity.

It can’t be a random thing you do whenever you feel like it, have some spare time, or run out of work.

For most (not all) self-employed professionals, the best way to prospect is via email.

Email prospecting, the way I suggest you do it, is not your everyday email prospecting.

This is NOT about mass emailing.

It’s NOT about sending newsletters or trying to automate your prospecting.

In fact, it’s the opposite of that.

Think of email prospecting as ‘artisanal’ prospecting.

Each email must be personally handcrafted and written for one person only.

When done right, these messages position you as a knowledgeable pro with a very relevant and timely message.

That’s why it’s one of the quickest, most cost-effective ways to attract and land high-quality clients, customers, and projects – without the unpleasantness of cold calling, or the big money and time investments needed for most traditional marketing tactics.

It’s important to understand this: the goal of a prospecting email is NOT to set an online appointment, arrange a demo, schedule a face-to-face meeting, or ask for a referral.

The goal is to be invited into a conversation – to invoke a response, a response that invites you to reply again, that invites you into a discussion – not about buying anything, but about a pain, fear, or goal the prospect has.

You need to talk exclusively about the prospect in a first touch email – not about yourself.

Your email is successful when it gets your prospect to respond with a question or statement about a pain, fear, or goal they have.

Once you have a response, you can then engage the prospect in some dialogue about how you could help them with that pain, fear, or goal.

I’ve put together a free quick-start guide for self-employed professionals that shows you the steps of generating a steady stream of high-quality leads using simple, short, and sweet emails to get a response.

Email me at jeff.gardner@prospectifier.com to request your free copy.

Or if you’re ready to systemize and ramp up your prospecting, check out the Crackerjack Prospecting System.

For a small investment, you’ll get a comprehensive playbook, access to email discovery and verification software, and email support.

More info here.