Job Hunting for Prospects

Joe Donna, President of sales consulting firm SalesOxygen, has a small but exceptional portfolio of clients who benefit from his services. Joe is outstanding when it comes helping his clients build their sales teams, but like many small to medium business owners, he constantly is working on prospecting for new customers.

Over coffee, Joe revealed that he looks at scaling his business as a function of finding new customers: “In the consulting business”, said Joe, “if you don’t have a pipeline of new prospects waiting, you are only good as the last client you can bill.”  Joe has worked very hard to develop a pipeline of good prospects. 

Given the current economy and Joe's interest in prospecting, I suggested to him that getting new clients is just like job hunting...

There are a lot of professionals looking for jobs right now just like there are way too many sales people prospecting for too few customers. Job hunting experts will tell you the first thing job hunters must recognize:

It’s not about YOU!

Job Hunting is literally selling YOU to a potential employer. The harsh reality when you are looking for a job is that potential employers don't focus directly on YOU. They are concerned about their own business problems, objectives, needs and goals and are looking for people who most appear to address those objectives, needs and goals. Job hunters often make the mistake of trying to sell their “features and benefits” - their career accomplishments and personal strengths - without understanding how their potential employer would actually benefit from them.

Whether you are a job hunter, a business owner or a sales executive, you must understand your potential employer/client’s problems, objectives, needs and goals. Then you can create the proper messages to demonstrate how YOU solve their problems, objectives, needs and goals.

Of course you need to network, attend events, get referrals from friends and clients, have introductions made, etc. Before any of those things, you need to get your story straight!

If you tell a lousy story, you’ll get predictably bad results. The right story starts with articulating the prospect's problems, objectives, needs and goals. Whether you are a job hunter, a start-up executive raising money or a sales person, it comes down to telling the right story.

Here are some important things to consider as you create your story:

  • There is no one “tactic” that guarantees that you will attract enough customers to pay the bills. Combine several tactics to create enough visibility. Regardless of which tactics you use, the common thread is the story you tell your prospect.
  • Your story should talk about your customer’s problems, objectives, needs and goals, then describe how YOU (your product or service) address them.
  • The story needs to be delivered to lots of potential customers, hence the need for “tactics”. You need to aggressively put your story out there so that lots of people will find it.
  • If your tactics don’t identify enough prospects to hear your story, you will not receive sufficient attention in a “noisy’ market to attract new customers. Discover where your potential customers look for information and then present it to them in those venues.

If you have created a good story and have properly distributed it to places where prospects are looking for it, they will start to find it. When customers have a potential interest in your product, service or expertise they will come looking for you.

One caveat: I am NOT talking about build it and they will come. I worked for a technology company whose idea of marketing was to announce they had invented a new product - then they sat around waiting to count orders! Needless to say, that company no longer exists.

When it comes to tactics using social networking is a key strategy to distribute your message - here’s some sample tactics:

  • Join LinkedIn groups for your target prospect business/industry and use the member search function to identify potential prospects. Then, use the “message member” function to contact them individually - for free!
  • Pay for a Business LinkedIn account. Use “People Search” to find your targeted prospects, and send them In Mail one by one.
  • Join Twitter and follow your targeted prospects. Use tools like Tweep Search and Twellow to find them. About 50% will likely follow you back. Learn more about them from their tweets. And by publishing interesting, relevant content for them - they will “take notice” of your services.

Using tools like LinkedIn and Twitter first will help you learn more about your targets before you make direct contact.