The key to sales success is to increase the number of meetings you are granted by prospective clients. Developing an effective prospecting process to earn those meetings can be the difference between life and death in your sales career.

For me, the goal of prospecting is simply to get a meeting. I am just hoping to meet with a client via phone or in person for 20 minutes. If you are selling during the prospecting phase, you will greatly reduce your success.

I have identified 6 factors in the prospecting process that will increase your chances of being granted a meeting. I call this my T.A.R.G.E.T. prospecting tool and each step builds on the previous one.

Valuing Time

The T in T.A.R.G.E.T. stands for “time.” A person’s time is highly valuable to them. The main reason more prospects do not allow you to present to them is because many other salespeople have wasted their time. It is imperative that you focus on NOT wasting their time in your prospecting emails and voicemails.

You want to articulate that you realize other salespeople may have wasted their time. But, be careful not to sound like the other sellers who emailed them that day and said the same thing.

An often overused phrase in prospecting emails is, “I know that your time is valuable.” Or, “I want to be respectful of your time.” These two phrases are common, so they don’t sound authentic. Instead, I want you to consider phrases like, “I promise not to waste your time.” Or, “ I’m sure other salespeople have wasted your time.”

Be Authentic

The A in T.A.R.G.E.T. stands for “authentic.” Showing that you are authentic is critical in breaking the ice with someone you don’t know. People that are authentic are not afraid to admit their faults, are more focused on others than themselves and truly want to help you. Consider adding a phrase like this to your emails and voicemails: “I truly feel this equipment will help you reduce costs.” Or, “I have seen firsthand how other landscapers have benefited from this new model.” 

Be Relevant

The R in T.A.R.G.E.T. stands for “relevant.” There is nothing worse than receiving an irrelevant, generic sales email from someone you don’t know. I am amazed that companies still continue to use this approach as a prospecting tool. It does not work unless you email thousands and thousands of prospects, and even then, it is hit and miss. Instead, I want to prove quickly that I am relevant to my prospect by pointing out something from their website, company Facebook page or their LinkedIn profile.

For example, I might say, “While researching your company, I saw on your LinkedIn profile that we both have connections with ABC Company.” Or, “In preparing to contact you, I saw on your Facebook page that you’re promoting several new services right now.“ Generic does not work. Relevant always wins.

Moving Forward

The G in T.A.R.G.E.T. stands for “go.” This premise is simple: We want them to move forward, and we need to ask them to do so. I am not suggesting that you be pushy or arrogant. I am suggesting that you consider phrases like, “I truly feel that I can help you build your business. Can we chat for 20 minutes or less via phone Tuesday at 9 a.m., 11 a.m. or 3 p.m. EST?”

Be Ethical

The E in T.A.R.G.E.T. stands for “ethical.” Have you ever received an email with a great subject line, and then opened the email to discover you were tricked? The subject line is often the ethical barometer by which you are judged. It sets the tone for your chance of getting your email opened or replied to. 

Choosing the Time

The final T in T.A.R.G.E.T. stands for “tick tock,” like a clock. When is the best time to send a prospecting email? The most common times for meetings are 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., so try to avoid those times. 

What times of day are predictable for fewer meetings: 11:15 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. These times are close to lunch and the end of the work day. Consider altering your email prospecting send times to coincide with times that your potential clients will be most attentive.

Try the T.A.R.G.E.T. system to improve your prospecting system, but remember to include each component.