John David Mann calls it “the central skill of our profession.

” Robert Butwin calls it the “life blood of our business.” Denise Clements calls it “the most vital skill of all.” And John Milton Fogg says that “in network marketing, it rules!” Can any of us argue? Prospecting produces the fuel on which our business runs. A rep with a st agnant names list, in all likelihood, has a stagnant business as well. Surely we all agree that prospecting is important, but still, what is it? Well, perhaps w e should start by pointing out what prospecting is not. Prospecting is NOT… asking someone if they’d like to be part of your business How long have you been involved with your company? Have you been participating i n training? Have you been using the product for a while? Well, the prospect does n’t have any of those experiences. He doesn’t know how your comp plan works. His bel ief hasn’t been bolstered by countless testimonials of income and product results. In short, you have a huge information advantage over her. It’s not feasible to br idge that information gap in the first encounter. The prospect does not know eno ugh to make a qualified decision about participating and it isn’t fair for you to ask—not in the first encounter. Of course, you should make an offer, but your offe r shouldn’t be for the prospect to join your team. Prospecting is NOT… trying to convince someone to look at your DVD or magazine Merely assuming that the prospect is interested is arrogant and self-serving. Of course, our motive isn’t arrogant or selfish, but our motive is not what matters. The prospect’s perspective is what matters. Put yourself in the prospect’s shoes: a total stranger strikes up a friendly conversation and in no time at all, he sta rts babbling about a great way to make money and shoves some kind of “tool” into you r personal space. It is this very scenario that causes many reps to avoid situat ional prospecting altogether. What a waste. See, it’s not the fact that you’re a str anger and it’s not the fact that you offered a tool that gives situational prospec ting a bad reputation. The difference between win-win prospecting and fail-fail prospecting is determined 100% by how we go about it. Prospecting is NOT… trading business cards and expecting the phone to ring Use the tools produced by your company. They have been carefully designed to cre ate maximum positive impact—auditory, visual, and emotional. It’s a rare person inde ed that can convey the same impact in a 30-120 second, random encounter with a t otal stranger. Even if you do have the talent, does your team? The idea is to du plicate yourself. If your pattern of prospecting isn’t duplicable, it’ll be hard to create explosive growth on your team. Another, less obvious, advantage to using tools is that it fosters a pattern of exchange between you and the prospect (you offer opportunity, he responds positi vely, you hand him a tool, he gives you a phone number, …) Business cards don’t have enough perceived value to create the same perception of exchange. Prospecting IS… focusing on the other person People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Everything you say and do should take into account the perspective of the prospect. For exa mple, if you use the word “I” you’re speaking from your perspective, not the prospect s. Practice rephrasing your conversations to use the word “you” instead. (Hint: ask questions instead of making statements. This will automatically shift your focus to the other person.) Make an offer based on what your opportunity can do for t he prospect, not so you can qualify for the upcoming bonus trip. Ask good questions and listen to the responses. When I prospect, my side of the


conversation is comprised entirely of questions. The key is to ask them in a way that doesn’t seem like an interrogation. Use facial expressions to demonstrate yo ur genuine interest. Make the prospect feel unique by projecting spontaneity. All of your prospecting conversations may be virtually identical, but you don’t have to broadcast the fac t. In general, the more spontaneous the conversation seems, the more interest th e prospect will have. Keep in mind that even though your dialogue may not be uni que, as a human being, the prospect is totally unique. Your offer to him is base d on your willingness to work with him to accomplish his unique goals. Spontanei ty is best projected through body language and voice inflection. Prospecting IS… sending a consistent message In my experience, most team builders have their heart in the right place. They g enuinely want to help the prospect. Unfortunately, many of them use words and ac tions that contradict their heart (such as using "I"). When your words and your emotions contradict each other, your message is not consistent; it’s incongruent. This incongruence is a silent killer. It subconsciously confuses the prospect an d be assured—a confused mind does nothing. That’s when the prospect says something l ike this: “I don’t have the time...”, or “No, thanks. I wouldn’t be interested”, or etc. Be congruent—choose words and actions that are consistent with your desire to help. Prospecting IS... differentiating yourself Let’s face it. The world has plenty of cynical, sarcastic, and negative people. Th at doesn’t mean you have to be one of them. Learn to make genuine compliments. Use clean, upbeat humor, not directed at anyone in particular (except maybe yoursel f; a little self-deprecation can be highly effective). Show respect and apprecia tion for the prospect. This alone will make you stand out positively in the pros pect’s mind. Do not underestimate the power of this subtle principle. Use words and phrases that are unique and have create positive impact.

For example, how do you respond when a stranger greets you with something like, “H ow are you?” Most people respond with “Fine”, “Pretty good”, or even “Fantastic”. Not me. I c oose to stand out so I have a number of responses at the ready. One of my favori tes is, “If I was any better, I’d have to charge admission just to say ‘hi’!” Once they ch uckle (and they nearly always do) the conversation is off to a positive and natu ral start. Here’s another example of using words to stand out. I make a point in my prospecti ng conversations to find out about the prospect’s occupation. One way to do this, and the one most people use, is to ask something like, “What do you do for a livin g?” Here’s a much more effective question: “So, what do you do, professionally?” With on e sentence, I manage to get important information and compliment the prospect. W ho was the last the person that called him a professional? I was and believe me, his focus shifts to what I’m saying, his shields are down, and his mind is open; all from one simple question. Prospecting IS… 90% timing Previously, in this article, we discussed how we should make an offer of opportu nity, but not invite the prospect to join our team. These two ideas may seem to contradict one another, but they do not. Allow me to elaborate: When we meet someone in a random situation, we have no idea or her life. While we may believe that our opportunity can life, she may not be at a point to mentally or emotionally ew. So yes, we’re going to make an offer—by asking the only what’s going on in his bring value into his evaluate something n question that is fair, r

espectful, and to the point. I have an entire set of these questions that I draw from based on several factors, but the general form is this: “Are you at a point in life where you’d be willing to explore outside opportunities as long as they do n’t take too much time?” This is a powerful question loaded with positive psychology . Most importantly, it qualifies the prospect based on his current situation. If the timing in his life is right for an opportunity, this question is the key th at will unlock the next step. If the timing isn’t right, nobody got hurt; not you and not the prospect. In fact, if he says “no”, you haven’t even offered a tool! No ha rm, no foul, no rejection. How refreshing. Prospecting is primarily a matter of timing—the timing of your words, and the timing of events in the prospect’s life. The Bottom Line The bottom line is this: if you do a good job of relating to the prospect, the l ikelihood of him expressing interest is high. Remember though, only the prospect gets to decide how well you relate. It all comes down to his opinion. So if you’r e looking for a definition of prospecting, try this one on for size: Prospecting is the art, science, and practice of forming someone else’s opinion. Now, go knock ‘em alive,