In today’s Sales Insight blog post, I want to look at the concept of prospecting for increased sales, and more importantly the barriers we put in place to stop this being done effectively. Now the first part of this tip is simple; just do it. There are many reasons as to why we don’t do as much prospecting as we could be and true, if we don’t prospect today or this week it won’t harm sales in the short term. However, I can guarantee it will come back to bite us in the future – be that the next quarter, or three or four months down the line.
The three Ps that are blocking your effective prospecting:
Procrastinating – I’ve met thousands of sales people, many of whom will do anything rather than getting involved with prospecting. So my first piece of advice is to overcome the procrastination and make prospecting a simple part of your weekly activity.
Perfectionism – We hold on to the idea that we can’t contact a prospect unless our script or our email is absolutely perfect for fear of rejection, when actually in many cases we should just go for it, see what kind of response we get and then refine it from there.
Paralysis By Analysis – This is predicated on the idea that we need to research a company or a prospect in some detail before we contact them otherwise our credibility might be at risk if we didn’t fully understand what is going on with that customer. Some research is useful but if we spend all of our time researching we’re not actually speaking to prospects; we need to achieve the right balance between analysis and our research.
Ensure you don’t get trapped in the prospecting ‘Doom Loop’
If we think of a typical sales funnel, we get prospects in at the top, they then turn into opportunities when we’ve had some kind of contact and a possible response, and they then either turn into customers or they don’t.
What can happen quite often here is, we have an opportunity and some form of positive response to our initial conversation, so we try to follow up with that prospect to see if we can progress. Or, sometimes prospects as we know don’t respond – or don’t respond in a timely fashion – so we tell ourselves we’ll try one last time and this time we do get a response so we see if we can progress again.
I call this the Doom Loop and it’s very easy to get trapped in here, speaking to an ever-decreasing number of prospects about a smaller number of opportunities. The best way to break out of this is to have a fit sales funnel, so we still have a good volume of prospects coming in at the top, but we qualify them more effectively.
Accept when a prospect is unlikely to go anywhere and move on
Another very important element is the velocity in which we can move those prospects through that funnel to either become customers or not. The process that we like to look at here is Bounce, Bounce, Boom. This is being strong about the amount of sales effort you’re putting into prospects who haven’t responded to you. If after two or three attempts of contact you’re getting no response whatsoever, it’s probably a message that this isn’t going anywhere, certainly not at this time so put it in a marketing bin for now. Start refocusing your sales efforts and your prospective activity on getting some new prospects back into the top of that funnel.
Use your prospecting time to maximum effect
With your prospecting time, it’s important to invest in the areas that are going to give you the biggest return. We know that cold calling has less than 5% chance of success and therefore I’d guide you towards thinking about personalised messages that talk around issues and problems that the customer might be facing, to get your chance of success up towards around 25%.
Best of all is warm referrals. This is a case of making sure we’ve got customers or prospects, friends or family who are willing to refer us to other colleagues or organisations to increase our chance of success up to 70%.
Watch out for some future sales tips where I’ll be helping you through a process that will improve your ability to write and script those personalised messages, and check out my previous post on improving your understanding of your sales prospects with insights for more helpful information.
If you’d like to chat about this subject more than please contact me email@example.com.