Sales Prospecting is rarely anyone’s favorite activity
In my first post — Four Tips for Better Sales Prospecting — I shared some initial thoughts on how to make sales prospecting an integral part of the job as a sales professional. It’s not that sales prospecting is a new concept; it’s clearly at the heart of what everyone in sales should be doing continually. The issue is that it’s rarely anyone’s favorite activity and, as such, tends to fall off the to-do list when other priorities arise. That’s why I’m focusing this post on sharing more sales prospecting tips for even better demand generation.
- Expect rejection. This is probably the number one reason to avoid prospecting. Rejection is a frequent outcome, as prospects decline your calls, don’t answer e-mails, or don’t give you a decisive no. Still, prospecting is a numbers game. The more you do it, the higher your chances of getting a hit. The trick is to develop a thick skin, expect attrition, and be prepared for rejection. If prospecting was easy, everyone would do it with no qualms. It’s not easy, as many prospects are resistant to changing their incumbent vendor or trying a new solution. But, if you’re prepared for rejection, it makes less of an impact when it does happen.
- Practice, practice, practice. Golfing legend Gary Player once said, “The more I practice, the luckier I get.” Think of Tiger Woods in his heyday or Roy McAvoy. They would be out on the golf course, day after day, practicing their skills, hitting ball after ball. The lesson here for sales professionals is to never neglect your fundamental skills. Keep practicing and refining your prospecting techniques, no matter how experienced you are or how long your tenure on the job. Knowing how to connect with people is a skill that improves with practice, coaching, and ongoing learning.
- Network with your internal colleagues. Most people think networking is something you do with external contacts. I’m a big fan of networking internally, so we can share best practices with one another and compare notes about prospects. This is invaluable in global organizations like Richardson, where sales professionals are a diverse group working remotely. We don’t get together physically too often, so creating a forum or discussion group to share ideas, experiences, successes, tribal knowledge, and even failures around prospecting can benefit us all. Even though you may work remotely, on your own, you should never think you’re alone. You have the resources of your entire organization behind you.
- Remember good ol’ what’s-his-name. Throughout my career, I have made a point to remember former clients and how we used to work together. I consider these past connections to be a key focus area when I’m thinking about finding the right prospect today. Where, once, they decided to go elsewhere, they may be ready to work with me again. They may be amenable to hearing about a new product or service that fits their current needs. They or their organization may have changed over the years, or they may have changed organizations. Whatever the case, former clients are always a good focus for prospecting.
- Be very aware of competition. I consider this a best practice as a prospector. The more you know about what, or who, you’re up against, the stronger the case you can make to the prospect. It is well worth the time to find this out, so that when you do get a bite, you will also have some leverage, which can help you in solidifying your position.