‘Prospect Characteristics Matrix’ Turns Suspects into Prospects

Prospecting for new business works. Even if you only make a semi-good, half-assed attempt at prospecting, it works. It works because prospecting is far superior to doing nothing.

A Russian fellow, gassed and knee-walkin’ drunk on vodka, partying at a disco on International Women’s Day¹ spied a beautiful young woman, sidled up to her and said, “Even a blind hog finds an acorn once in while.”

She didn’t take the remark well and she grabbed him in a headlock, thrust her right hip and flipped him on his back where he remained unconscious for several hours. Happily, now the couple is married and she has borne six strapping daughters while simultaneously working as Commissarina for Security in her district. Her husband, Jakov, on the other hand, spends his days drinking vodka and peeling potatoes

Most of your lame competitors aren’t even trying to prospect, or if they do try, they toss one pitch, miss the catcher, miss the backstop, hit the large lady in the first row and give up.

Someone famous for saying memorable things, like David Ogilvie the great advertising genius who founded Ogilvie and Mather, said “The more prospects you talk to, the more sales you expose yourself to, the more orders you will get. But never mistake quantity of calls for quality of salesmanship.”

David also said, “If we hire people who are smaller than we are, we will become a company of dwarfs. If we hire people who are larger than we are, we’ll become a company of giants.”


Exercise 1 (2 Hours)

The following guidelines outline how to qualify prospects. Use them as discussion points, applying them to your own company.

“Suspects” are buyers you suspect have a need for your services. “Prospects” are suspects whom you have confirmed need what you are offering. Moving a company from suspect status to prospect status involves three steps: identifying the suspect, qualifying the suspect based on ability and willingness to buy what you have to sell, and presenting your offer to the suspect.

Harris DeWese is the author of "Now Get Out There and Sell Something." He is chairman/CEO at Compass Capital Partners and an author of the annual "Compass Report," the definitive source of info regarding printing industry M&A activity. DeWese has completed 100-plus printing company transactions and is viewed as the preeminent deal maker in the industry. He specializes in investment banking, M&A, sales, marketing and management services to printers.

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