Modern Prospecting Made Simple

What does GDPR and blackberry picking have in common?

Plenty but let me explain.

GDPR is known to have propelled the demise of cold emailing, which is not a bad thing. Spam emailing is an artefact of the early noughties and should be prohibited. GDPR has put paid to this ubiquitous marketing approach. The challenge for many companies is what to replace it with.

It was far too simple to buy a database for an extortionate sum and bulk email the list with your sales message. Expecting a return of 3 to 4% was deemed successful. Your sales team would pick these leads up and contact them to begin the sales process.

Not anymore though. Salespeople are still expected to prospect for new business but with the third decade of the 21st Century approaching, picking up the phone and cold calling should be banned to the 20th Century where it had its day. Not any more.

Next, I turn to blackberry picking. As a child, a father with young children and now – I adore blackberry picking. Its all about free food, delicious tastes and an abundance of recipes to adorn your table. It’s about the chase, the hunt for the best blackberries, to seek out bushes that have hardly been touched by other humans or scavenging birds. To pick the most prominent, juiciest berry is very satisfying.

The problem is reaching these salacious fruits. I’m 6 foot tall and can stretch above most people, but even I can’t reach the best pods. Now I can either satisfy myself with the smallest ones or the windfalls that everyone else has touched or I can:

  • Walk for miles away from human habitat to find bushes unharmed by people
  • Use a small ladder to reach above all humans
  • Climb a tree nearby to stretch across
  • Help my son to reach for the good ones by holding him up
  • Buy a special picker tool to reach above 10 feet

These methods require a little extra effort, but I will reach the whole berries at the back of the bush which will be full of nutrients and goodness.

Let me give you an example of this analogy and how it can help you think about targetting prospective customers. Later this year I’m extending my business model to providing advice to later life mortgage customers who are looking to release equity in their homes. Like all salespeople, I need to prospect for new business otherwise I won’t eat. I won’t have a massive advertising budget to pay Google thousands in pay per click – the likes of Legal and General and Canada Life will exhume that. Here are my plans:

  • Write and publish all over the internet to drive traffic to my website, Facebook page.
  • Speak to everyone in my network for people they know who may be my target audience
  • Speak on cruise ships about the benefits of equity release
  • Speak at gatherings, associations, events
  • Join the neighbourhood watch and network with my neighbours
  • Volunteer to help deliver “meals on wheels” in my area and get to know my new clients.
  • Write articles in local magazines that delivered to people’s doors
  • Network and speak at golf clubs
  • Attend church meetings and speak about the benefits
  • Attend funerals to talk to people, well actually maybe not that one.

A little extra effort and you can reach people who may be new to equity release and open to my proposition or at the very least, will know people who do. Just phoning people cold won’t work.

Back to your business. It would be best if you prospected and you appreciate that the best berries require more effort. Let’s lay a plan for you.

  1. Market Research
  2. Woo
  3. Contact
  4. Incubate

Market research

Firstly you will want to research your target market. Find your sector, the companies in the sector and who in the firm is the right recipient for your sales message. If it’s consumers you’re targeting find out where they are, who they are.

Next research the firms, try to find out what they’re about, what problems challenge their businesses, what goals do they have – is it to expand, grow, make more profit, recruit staff, retain staff, increase market share. Have a look at their website, their blogs, their LinkedIn profile – follow them on LinkedIn, don’t connect yet – Google their firm and find out as much as you can.

You will have a list of companies, people in the company who are deciders. You’ll know their challenges and issues that your proposition can help with, and you’ll have much intelligence on them. You ought to be able to finish the sentence “I noticed that you’re…”

  • Expanding
  • Growing your market share
  • Recruiting massively
  • Innovating in your market

Woo them

As a spotty youth, I was dismal at making inroads with girls. My dad, bless him, advised that I spend time woo’ing them. Sending them cards, flowers, making them feel special. In a way, you can do this before you make contact.

Some ideas for woo’ing:

  • Email them an article you’ve written describing the problems they may be facing and your solution
  • Email them a link to a video that will also talk about the same thing
  • Comment positively on their LinkedIn posts because you’re following them now (not connected)
  • Engage with them in their online groups
  • Post them a printed article or White Paper
  • Invite them to a free online meeting or webinar you’re running for your target audience
  • Post them an inspiration card
  • Invite them on a live stream event you’re running
  • Invite them to an association meeting you’re attending
  • Send their team a pizza one Friday afternoon with a key message

Contact them

You will need to do this now. It can’t be put off any longer. You can phone but you will need to have your “I noticed you…” message honed, a plan to follow and an easy call to action. The call to action could be a further phone call when convenient, a short meeting with you. It does need to be a connect to discuss their challenges. Come over as a consultant, not a salesperson. You’re interested to find out more about them now, to see how their challenges and goals might be dealt with via your proposition.

You could and should attempt to LinkIn with them now. Ensure you type a personalised message referring to the “wooing” that you’ve been doing. I’ve often hooked up with people this way and started a conversation using the Linked In email engine. Very powerful.

Email might work here but bear in mind that 205 billion are sent each day and the average business person receives 300 to 400 per day themselves. Yours might just get lost in the mist.

You may have to pick up the phone. Try early in the morning before work starts, many early birds are in the office, lunchtime or later in the evening. Otherwise, you’ll get voicemail.

Don’t be put off by a lack of success first time, You must persevere.


Ensure you log everything on a CRM system to remind you what’s been sent, emailed or said. Automate this as much as you can

Its hard work, modern prospecting, but it does the job. Gone are the days where you made sixty dials, got through to ten people, hit them with your pre-scripted message and achieved two appointments. That is a relic of the past. Moreover, if you can reach those bulbous juiciest blackberries with your hard work, just imagine the joy of biting into a fresh blackberry crumble with single cream drizzling around the sugary taste. Well worth the effort.