January 26th, 2015

Overcoming Obstacles to Prospecting

Obstacles to Prospecting

Overcoming Obstacles to Prospecting

In a recent post regarding making referrals part of your prospecting, we highlighted the importance of overcoming obstacles. The point was that, while seeking referrals is one of the best ways to secure warm leads, too many sales reps fail to pursue them due to real or perceived obstacles in their way. Overcoming those obstacles will undoubtedly lead to greater success, so let’s take a deeper look at prospecting obstacles and ways to manage or avoid them.

Most Obstacles to Prospecting Are Behavioral

There are several reasons for obstacles that stand in sales reps’ way when prospecting. As you examine the list below, you’ll realize that these aren’t physical barriers; rather, they are mental and behavioral challenges to be faced.

  • Too busy/no time (other tasks have greater urgency, are too time-consuming, not at a good time, etc.)
  • Lack of network
  • Fear of rejection
  • Feeling of imposing/intruding
  • Outside of comfort zone
  • Lack of success
  • Frustration
  • Lack of a process, discipline
  • Bad experiences (just finished a “bad” call; not up to the next one)

While some excuses may be valid, sales reps too often succumb to them and fail to grow beyond their comfort zone. It’s up to sales managers and leaders to instigate change.

Three Critical Success Factors to Overcoming Obstacles: Skill, Knowledge, and Will

Concerns of time and process can be mitigated with attention. Sales reps need to develop sufficient confidence in themselves and what they’re selling to get over most other hurdles. This can be achieved by mastering the requisite skill, knowledge, and will to prospect beyond their comfort zone.

  • Build confidence by ensuring that sales reps have the necessary skills to do their jobs. There may be industry- or product-specific skills to develop to help sales reps relate to their buyers, but efforts should also focus on basic selling skills like presence, questioning, positioning, checking, and negotiating (as well as overcoming obstacles).

Be prepared to practice and struggle a bit. It’s no different from getting better at shooting free-throws in basketball or performing surgery — developing any skill requires practice. It’s cliché, but you get out of it what you put into it. With practice and meaningful attempts, sales reps will gain invaluable experience and enhance their selling technique.

  • Possessing knowledge is table stakes — if you’re not acquiring the necessary knowledge to stay on top (or ahead) of industry and business trends, then you’re going to fail. Sales reps must know what’s relevant and how it applies to their prospects’ businesses.
  • Having the will to tackle fears, do what’s right, practice, and the courage to trudge on is critical. Sales reps must be persistent, possess a positive “I can do this” attitude, and maintain perspective. At the end of the day, you’re just making a phone call (for example), not scaling Mt. Everest; your life isn’t in danger. But, if you don’t try, you’re never going to succeed.

Managers: Coach Your Reps

If you want your sales reps to challenge themselves, raise their game, and overcome obstacles that inhibit their prospecting, then make it part of your culture. Everybody talks about it, but too few take action. Overcoming obstacles should be driven by the sales leader from the top down. Lead by example, measure and inspect, and hold your people accountable.

It gets back to the importance of coaching. Leaders don’t do it enough or do it right. For many, overcoming obstacles is a mindset and behavior change that requires time, as well as frequent dialogue with and support of, their managers. Don’t be a barrier to your sales team’s success — lead the charge to change!

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About The Author: James A. Brodo

Jim Brodo is the former Senior Vice President of Marketing at Richardson. Jim brings over a decade experience to this position with Richardson, where he oversees all marketing and communications efforts for the organization including SEO, SEM, planning, public relations, advertising, lead nurturing, and brand strategy. Jim is currently focused on updating the corporate identity, especially through the use of organic SEO and SEM tactics. He spearheaded the implementation of professional social networking strategies, launch of the new website, updated messaging, and marketing materials. In addition, Jim is credited for creating a content marketing syndication strategy that focuses on adding value to clients and prospects. As the leader of the corporate marketing operations, Jim aims to strengthen Richardson’s brand as the top sales training company in the industry.

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One Response to “Overcoming Obstacles to Prospecting”

  1. January 26, 2015 at 11:53 am, Mark Stanley said:

    as a former sales trainer and retiring from Cargill in a few years I enjoy trining and read your articles. One of the things I teach newbies about prospecting is to not let it intimidate you because customers cant say no if you dont give them info to say no to….ask for a meeting to learn as a new rep…ask them what they look for in a viable company and listen, take notes and keep your word…dont slip in a sales pitch….they will ask you if they are interested…then remeind them that you agreed to just learn and set another appointment later!


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