From Watercolor to Renoir – Prospecting with Verticals

Watercolor Johnny Business

Picture Credit:

Renoir Johnny Business

Picture Credit:

Sales Rep:

Hi this is John from XYZ company and i would like to speak to the person charged with making decisions for (Insert whatever product you are trying to sell).

Continue ad infinitum,  rinse, and repeat continuously until you bang your head against the wall and it becomes bloody.

This is basically the way the sales people used to go about and some STILL go about prospecting. The world is a changing. Basically, you can liken this approach to third grade watercolor art. The way that industries are moving now, the intelligence of businesses today, the advent of Internet 2.0, and all the social media that’s out there; it’s imperative that salespeople move to the next level. And what is the next level you ask? The next level my dear friend is Renoir.

Painting (prospecting) with beauty          with depth          with precision. To do this salespeople need to do a couple of things RIGHT most of the time.

Prior to diving into making a call, have a good idea of who it is that you want to talk to and what the business does. Asking “so what do you do” or “who should I be speaking to” is going to make you sound unprofessional. The key to moving to the next level in sales prospecting to generate the results you want and need is to truly become a skilled artisan.

Master the art of basic pre-call research and develop your skills at list-building so that you can more intelligently search for viable candidates for your product or service.

With better, more focused lists you will be able to move past the “third grade” watercolor questions and move into the realm of asking questions that will impact your prospect.

List Building

A Great way to do build GOOD lists is to base them on specific verticals that you want call on. Start by building a list of categories or types of companies that you know something about, have a passion for, or verticals you’ve worked with or worked for in the past. Building this list “corrals” specific types of companies together allowing you to have similar conversations with each of them and also gives you something in common to talk about. You’re not starting from ground zero every time you pick up the phone or enter a door and you’re not going in flying blind. A point of note here: when you start making these Cold calls you need to find the balance between doing too much research and doing too little research. If you do too little research you are in the “watercolor” painting zone which, as I have mentioned, doesn’t work. Too much research and you affect your ability to effectively prospect in a timely fashion. List building is crucial and it is, in the truest sense, your first step in qualifying a prospect before you even speak to them.


So when you start “fishing” with different lures within your verticals you want to start taking into consideration who it is you want to talk to, ways to get in touch with that person, organizations that they belong to, memberships that they have looking at them on LinkedIn, checking if they have a twitter account, checking out their website, etc. these are things you can do pretty quickly and it’s non-sales activity. You can do this outside of work hours and build yourself a list when you’re watching the game, when you have downtime, or before work hours are some good best practices.

Why is this important?

Having a basic understanding through your research of what the company is about and who is likely a decision maker will put you light-years ahead of your competition. You may even already have a few ideas from previous experience as to what products or services might be of benefit to them. This allows you to have a higher quality, more directed conversations than you would have otherwise. Now instead of asking who to talk to and what a company does you can do things like:

  • Stating that you have worked with other companies like theirs in the past and were able to have success in helping them _________(insert benefit statement).
  • Explain that you understand the industry and that you have seen that they might benefit from ________ (fill in the blank with a product or service that you offer).
  • Convey that you are an expert in ________ (insert industry or business type) and you would like to make yourself available to them as a resource.

Honing your sales skills is an intrinsic element to becoming a professional. In today’s environment, there is NO room for non-professionals and companies simply won’t stand for old-school practices. You have to adapt, adjust, and grow as a professional at a far greater pace than ever before. Challenge yourself by looking at your current prospecting tactics and begin to strategize a method like the one explained above so that you can refine your skills. Get serious about what you do and commit to it.