Just as the prospector in case of mining explores with a view of finding valuable mineral deposits, in the same way the salesman looks for and explores valuable prospects, that is persons who are in need of his product. The need can be converted into want and the same may finally be converted into purchases. Prospecting means finding out qualified and potential customers. In other words, prospecting is the method of finding out the prospects or likely customers. Actually selling process starts with prospecting. Regular and systematic prospecting is the foundation of all selling. A salesman is constantly on the lookout for prospects, which means he is looking out for individuals, whom he can ultimately convert into buyers. In this case, we must remember that prospecting is not a wild goose chase. It is a systematic and continuous search of a potential customer.
Characteristics of a good prospect
Prospecting is as wide as a desert; but it does not mean that because it is desert, oil can be found everywhere. Prospects are too many, for that reason every human being may be considered as a prospect. It is not correct to consider everyone to be prospect without first determining whether these individuals possess the necessary characteristics of a good prospect. In this connection the main characteristics of a good prospect are as follows:
1. The first and the foremost characteristics of a good prospect is that he must have the need of the product. A need must exist which is capable of being converted into a want and a want into purchase. In case, the prospect does not have the need of the product in question then it is the responsibility of the salesman to see that the need is created by means of creative salesmanship.
2. The second characteristics of a good prospect is that he should have the ability to pay because if wishes wee horses even beggars could ride them. Mere desire or want is not sufficient. It must be an effective want duly backed by the ability to pay. Ability to pay means possessing enough financial resources to make the payment.
3. Simply having a want and ability to pay is not enough; the prospect should also have the ability to sacrifice. For instance take the case of a miser. He possesses both the want and the ability to pay but the ability to sacrifice is lacking. Thus his desire or want cannot be converted into purchase.
4. The fourth characteristics of a good prospect is that he should have the requisite authority to buy. For instance, the son of a rich businessman desires a car but he does not have the requisite authority from his father to buy a car. In this case, the salesman should approach the father and not the son for selling the car.
5. Really speaking, a big gap exists between a high, executive authority and the salesman, that of approachability. The salesman is required to cross many hurdles before approaching the high executive. The salesman should take into consideration, the nature, the status and the circle etc. of high executive before making any approach to him.
6. The last but not the least important characteristics of a good prospect is that he should be eligible to buy. For instance, certain goods can be sold only to a licence- holder, such as gun or pistol or at the recommendation of a qualified doctor, such as medicine.
From the above discussions, it is evident that a good prospect is one who has the need to buy, has ability to pay, is prepared to sacrifice, has authority to buy, and approachable and also eligible to buy.
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