In our annual selling challenges survey, we asked more than 350 sales professionals to tell us about their biggest challenges in prospecting in 2017:
- 17% of respondents reported that creating a targeted prospecting strategy would be their greatest challenge
- 14% said that the quality of leads from marketing would be their greatest challenge
- 12% said gaining appointments would be their greatest challenge
These results tell us time is a precious commodity, especially as demands for productivity increase in an increasingly difficult selling environment. Being able to create a targeted prospecting strategy is essential to avoid wasting time, making this the number one prospecting challenge in 2017.
Compared with 2016 responses, this year’s top challenges indicate a trend toward greater targeting and quality of leads. Sellers are homing in on ways to become more strategic in their prospecting efforts, while being less concerned with the “how” — which sales and marketing enablement tools to use — in identifying triggers for their accounts. The availability of data through lead generation and research tools has lifted some of this burden from sellers. The problem, however, is that without a plan for how best to use this data, sellers can easily get lost in the sheer volume available.
The top two prospecting challenges from 2016 dropped off this year’s list. With more sales enablement tools being used, sellers are easily able to research companies as possible targets and to set triggers for their accounts.
Richardson’s Prospecting Insights
A successful prospecting strategy is comprised of dedicated time and focus in the following areas:
- Identifying the right prospects (depending on a well-documented ideal client profile)
- Identification of contacts and triggers; market, organization, and contact research
- Tailoring of targeted messages and insights
- Networking; cold and warm calling activity
- Social prospecting
- Effective time management
Sellers need to attack these areas with a specific game plan and stick to it. Every week, no matter the gap to goal, sellers must dedicate time to growing their portfolio. Sales enablement tools can give sellers better visibility into their target prospects and the issues they face, laying the groundwork for developing an executable strategy. Marketing departments can provide a wealth of information about prospects, allowing sellers to be more strategic in how they use their time.
Sales and marketing need to work together in defining the standards for a quality lead so marketing can identify and nurture them, helping sellers connect with the right prospects at the right time. The role of the Sales Development Resource continues to gain in popularity to nurture leads until they are truly qualified for sales. Getting a prospect to engage and agree to an appointment — by phone or face-to-face — has become more challenging as buyers are targeted and inundated with every prospecting strategy imaginable. The old saying remains as true today as it ever was — there is no easy path to success. Understanding industry challenges, relevant messaging, and persistence are paramount in a successful prospecting effort. Research, insights, business acumen and preparation are necessary, and each takes time and effort.
Click here to download Richardson’s complimentary report, “Understanding Selling Challenges in 2017.”
Connect with us at 215.940.9255 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how we can help your sales organization with their current challenges.