Many salespeople make the mistake of prospecting to untargeted leads and relying on cold calls. However, you can increase your chances of sales success by following these four secrets of prospecting success from Todd Duncan’s book Killing the Sale:

» Consistently Sew a Common Thread — The best way to approach a new prospect is through a referral source. The referral can be a strategic partner, colleague, family member or mutual friend who vouches for you and makes your sales role more of a friendly meeting and exchange of information.

» Regularly Stretch Client Satisfaction — When you and a client have a solid relationship built on trust, utilize that person to help you build rapport with new prospects. Seek to add more value to them so that when you ask for referrals, they don’t think twice.

» Get Out More — This may seem counterintuitive, but you need to get out of the office. You’d be surprised at how many people in your realm of influence know people who may be interested in your product or service. Always start by asking yourself: “Who do I know who knows the person I want to know?”

» Take Your Focus Off Selling — Prospects don’t respond well to people who sound as if they’re selling something. Instead of launching into business mode, connect with the person across from you on a one-to-one level.

Prospecting is less about your ability to sell than it is about your ability to build trust and foster relationships. If you want to maintain a high probability of sales success, do more than just cold calling.

— Craig Greene is a senior loan officer at Prospect Mortgage, 3916 State St., Suite 100, Santa Barbara 93105. He can be reached at or 805.898.4211.