- Posted by: Ruth Van Vierzen
- Category: Blog
Prospecting is one of the sales tasks most avoided by sales people. But it’s also one of the most necessary to keep pipelines full, have new sales coming in, and avoid the risk of over-reliance on sales from repeat customers.
There are many reasons sales people have shared with me for why they don’t prospect enough, including:
- they think their employer should be supplying all of their leads
- they don’t know how to do it
- it’s easier to generate sales with existing customers
- lack of time to prospect
- they don’t like the rejection that comes with prospecting for new business
The sales leadership in your company should position prospecting as a crucial, priority task with your sales team.
You or your sales manager should expect each of your sales people to schedule blocks of time on their calendar each week when they will do nothing but prospect. Such activity increases salesperson confidence, sales team energy and sales results.
But how do you help your team shift into prospecting mode, instead of avoidance mode?
Below are 5 things you and your sales team can do to make prospecting easier and grow your sales:
1. Talk About It
Good sales managers understand that the sales profession is a mental game that requires strong self-awareness. Salespeople deal with their own anxieties, fears and self-doubts as they prospect, follow-up, present, face objections and close sales. It is a profession of highs and lows that demands continuous professional development.
You can help your team manage the mental and emotional challenges of sales by having open, honest conversations one-on-one and as a team. These conversations will expose the challenges they’re dealing with and present opportunities to help your team grow in their profession.
2. Prepare to Prospect
Scheduling in blocks of time to prospect in your calendar each week is the best way to ensure it gets done. This time should be made a priority with a hyper-focus on prospecting tasks. Don’t let other appointments or tasks push prospecting off the calendar. And build in accountability with reporting on activity and results generated.
Decide in advance on the specific target market you’re going to prospect during scheduled time, so you’re more efficient. If available, have a sales assistant prepare a list of targetted prospects, or purchase a list from a quality supplier.
Conduct research on your prospects before reaching out. Between websites, Linkedin, annual reports and news media, there is no excuse not to research your prospects. In just 10 minutes you can learn enough information to include a customized message to each prospect.
4. Have a process in place
Accept that it will take a minimum of five different touch points to gain traction with a prospect (5 to 12 is the norm). As such, you can’t prospect without having a follow-up system in place. When you determine how you’re going to prospect and have a follow-up system set-up, you will be much more efficient and increase your chances of moving your prospect through your pipeline.
5. Get creative
Challenge yourself and your team to find new sources of prospects. Linkedin, trade associations, companies advertising for jobs, industry awards and recognitions (think “Top Places to Work”, “Top Growing Company”, etc.) all make for fertile sources of new prospects.
Deliver value first. Make your outreach to prospects about them, not you. Help them with information and new insights. Do something to stand out and pique their interest.
Photo credit: Bruce Mars
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