Should my small business be prospecting right now?

Posted on: July 10, 2020

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Category: Business growth

Should my small business be prospecting right now?

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SoPro works directly with thousands of founders, owners and directors of small businesses. And, as a small business ourselves, what we are hearing from some really worries us.

A significant minority are voicing an unwillingness to prospect in a time of economic crisis and the attendant social miseries this inevitably brings with it.

The pressures facing small businesses are starkly clear.

  • Demand restriction
  • Supply chain disruption
  • Limited marketing channels
  • Cash flow crises
  • Remote working
  • Social distancing at work
  • Furloughed staff
  • And, increasingly, the need to make tough decisions over redundancies

These pressures weigh heavily on all of our minds, day and night.

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If you are wondering whether it is ‘right’ to prospect, or if prospecting may be damaging your reputation, I wanted to quickly reassure you.

I know time is tight so I’ll make this brief: the next two to three minutes could save your business.

What other channels are available to you?

This recession will last. A long time.

You will need to build and grow your business to survive it.

And this recession is very different to others we have experienced. It has been caused by a pandemic that has led to social measures never before seen.

These have effectively knocked out many traditional marketing channels.

We reviewed the marketing channels open to businesses at present, and email prospecting, content marketing, SEO and PPC and social remain the only viable options in most cases.

To be honest, PPC and email prospecting are highly likely to be the only of these channels that can be deployed without a large, dedicated marketing team.

And most small businesses do not have a large dedicated marketing team.

The question is not whether you should be prospecting but whether you can realistically afford not to market.

Is prospecting at this time ambulance chasing?

To me this visualisation of prospecting as preying on the weak is impossible to make.

I just can’t see it.

I’ve tried…

The prospector circling like a vulture over the canyon below and swooping to pick the bones of a dying business.

Or, the prospector scurrying after the sirens trying to hit businesses on their last legs.

It just doesn’t square.

I know that my team deliver value to other businesses. What we offer works. In fact, in many instances we have acted more as the ambulance crew than ambulance chasers.

When we prospect I truly believe we help.

The long and short here is this:

  • You genuinely believe in your business.
  • You know it can help and deliver value.
  • So, why would you not try and bring it to the attention of those who will benefit from it?

Will prospecting damage my reputation?

Here’s the thing.

Prospecting, when done well, does not feel intrusive.

It doesn’t shout at all and sundry but speaks one-to-one. It should read like you penning a note on a train to someone you’ve just realised could benefit from what you offer.

This, on the other hand, is intrusive:

Email prospecting doesn’t shout: it personally invites. It is highly targeted, never broadcast.

But, we know you will still get one or two disgruntled responses.

  • Do you really think this is top of my list right now?
  • Thanks, but I have far more pressing issues with keeping people in work right now.
  • How can you possibly be asking if I need help with recruitment at a time like this?

Don’t worry: you are not damaging your brand.

People are just stressed.

And there’s a perfectly simple response, that draws a polite line under this:

Please accept my apologies if I caught you at a bad time.  Totally understandable.  I’ll put this on ice for 3 months.

It’s perfectly understandable to question whether actively marketing is really the right decision.

And it’s equally clear that it definitely is.

The terminal effects of pausing prospecting far outweigh the risks every time.

Does prospecting work right now?

Yes, it does.

We have the data that proves it.

There’s also much you can do to stack the prospecting odds even more in your favour.

Over the past few months, we’ve shared stories of brands who have successfully pivoted their prospecting to gain the best position to win new business.

We can help you do this.

We regularly prospect into most sectors and we have a well grounded view of what is working right now and what isn’t.  In the vast majority of cases, it’s as simple as A, B, C.

SoPro ABC Guide to Recession Safe Prospecting

(A) Adjust your targeting to support sectors still able to avail your products/services.

(B) Adjust your proposition to directly meet new or revised demand scenarios.

(C) Adjust your messaging to reflect the contextual relevance of your proposition within each target sector’s solution to the current conditions.

And it works.

In the meantime, if you are not sure if prospecting is right for your small business, please don’t stop. Chat to my team and we’ll share success stories so you can skirt any minimal risks and reliably shore up the pipeline. 

It might just save your business.

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