on, you will have other opportunities that will be ready to close. This is important as another key
to being successful in sales is motivation — nothing is more motivating than having multiple
opportunities, via a full pipeline, to make new sales.
When prospecting to fill your pipeline, there are good sources of public information that provide
qualified leads. These sources include: City Hall registrations for new businesses, new business
license listings, the yellow pages, the local Chamber of Commerce, leads and tips clubs, commercial
printers (printing business cards, letterhead and signs for new companies), business service providers
such as phone companies, furniture stores and office supply firms, and most importantly, referrals
from other people who have bought from you in the past.
As referrals are the most valuable source of solid leads, successfully gaining referrals is critical
to successful prospecting. Simply asking if a merchant has any referrals often doesn’t get you anywhere.
Approaching a merchant with a plan to get referrals is much more successful. By asking a merchant if he
knows his merchant neighbors and if you can use his name to get your foot in the door, helps you create
a favorable “warm call” environment with his referrals. By creating a list of his nearby merchant neighbors
and asking him if he knows any of them by name, is an even better approach. This gives you more information
with which to approach these merchants as an “insider” as opposed to just another person selling a service.
If merchants who have bought from you in the past are happy with your service, you can often gain
referrals from them indefinitely. Find out if your customers are members of associations. Oftentimes,
other association members may have similar needs to those of your customer. Ask your customers if they
know of new businesses nearby or if they have friends or family members who have similar needs to their
own. Make a lasting impression and ensure future referrals by always thanking your customers, in writing,
for doing business with you. These types of leads are invaluable and are an excellent way of creating an
endless chain of referrals.
Organization is key to tracking your leads and maintaining a full pipeline throughout the prospecting
process. Many companies encourage their sales representatives to create a database of prospects which
not only facilitates the initial sales process, but makes continued communication after the sale easier
and more efficient.
Another key to prospecting is that it never ends. It’s important to remember, that you should always be
prospecting to fill your pipeline, even when business is good. The best time to prospect is right after
you make a sale. When you are fueled by confidence after closing a sale, the prospecting process is
easier and merchants respond more favorably to you. It is very easy to become too comfortable when
things are going well and to make fewer and fewer contacts. Becoming complacent is the biggest mistake
a successful salesperson can make. When your pipeline is empty, you then have to begin at ground zero
and spend time rebuilding it with new leads instead of closing the mature leads that should have already
been there. In fact, the most critical time for a salesperson isn’t when sales are bad, but when they
are great, because the natural tendency is to stop doing the things that achieved the success — resulting
in a loss of confidence and an empty pipeline.
Take heed and begin every day with a well thought out prospecting plan.
Wayne Damron is Senior Vice President of Sales for Lynk Systems, Inc. Visit the Lynk website at