Prospecting is a broad term. Does it mean cold calling? Networking? Attending association meetings? Building referral partners? Yes to all of the above. Consistent prospecting is the key to a full pipeline and sales. So why isn't every salesperson making prospecting an integral part of his/her plan? Here are three common reasons/mistakes we see when working with sales teams:
a. No well-defined target. An ambitious salesperson is doing all the right activity, however, has not defined their ideal client. As a result, the message on the cold call doesn't resonate, they attend the wrong networking events and surround themselves by partners who can't refer them at the right level or to the right company. An ideal client is a company who values relationships, expertise and doesn't make buying decision on price alone. They want fair, however, they want a partnership even more. Make sure you are planning your sales activity around those type of prospects, not just anyone with a pulse.
b. No plan. It's easy to start the week with good intentions to make prospecting calls and attend networking events. Then life hits and you are putting out fires, answering emails and phone calls. Friday arrives and no new contacts have been made. Planning and calendar blocking are the only way consistent prospecting happens. Take time on Friday afternoon or Monday morning to plan your week. The time set for prospecting becomes a non-negotiable. Appointments, customer service and client retention will still happen because you are more focused and directed.
c. Lack of skill. Let's face it. Who wants to make a cold call when they are not very effective on the phone and sound like a cheesy, sleazy telemarketer? Or who wants to attend a networking event when they dread small talk or ice breakers? Get some sales training and learn to be a professional in your field. Doctors, lawyers and engineers all put in a great deal of time at school to know their trade. Good selling skills can be learned and make a real difference in your income.
Prospecting is the foundation for a consistent pipeline. Define your target, get a plan and develop your skills. 2008 will be your best year ever!