In today’s Sales Insight blog post, I want to look at the concept of effective prospecting for increased sales, and more importantly, at the barriers we put in place to stop this being done well. Now the first part of this is simple; just do it! There are many reasons why we don’t do as much prospecting as we could do and, whilst it’s true that failing to prospect today or this week won’t harm sales in the short term, in the long term, it will have a serious knock-on effect.
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 don’t fully understand what is going on with that company. 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.
A common mistake made by sales people is to get stuck in the ‘Doom Loop’; whereby too much time and energy is focused on pursuing prospects who have either not responded at all to our initial contact, or who have expressed an initial interest, but gone quiet. We keep telling ourselves that we’ll try “just one last time”, but what this inevitably leads to is prospecting activity that is focused on an ever-decreasing number of prospects and 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, Bin. 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 prospecting 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 are warm referrals. This is ensuring we have got customers, prospects, friends or family who are willing to refer us to other colleagues or organisations; increasing our chance of success by 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.