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SalesGrowth MD, Inc. | Denver/ Englewood, CO

Sales Prospecting

No matter how successful you are in business you could still use more high-quality sales prospects, right? I don’t come across many businesses that don’t answer that question with a resounding yes.

Everyone knows the usual tips for adding more prospects like make more cold calls, make more connections socially or otherwise, or ask for more referrals from existing customers. All are certainly good advice but not exactly revelations.

LinkedIn is a powerful prospecting tool. That fact is beyond a shadow of a doubt.

What IS somewhat in doubt is exactly what that means in terms of how it is used. My personal position is that LinkedIn is great for identifying potential leads, getting introduced to those leads, and nurturing an online relationship.

David Mattson, President and CEO of Sandler Training and 6-Time Best-Selling Author, talks about his fifth book, Sandler Rules for Sales Leaders.

Listen Time10 Minutes

I frequently ask senior leaders and owners of client firms how they prefer to buy or be sold.

I ask them questions like 1) How do you feel when you pick up your phone only to find it is a salesperson on the line and do you respond favorably to their call? 2) How do you respond to strong closing tactics? 3) How do you like it when sales people are aggressive and use obvious sales “moves” to try and keep you in the sales process? And other similar types of questions.

Every salesperson lives for the thrill of the closing the deal. That magical moment when you realize the sale is going to happen is one of the greatest experiences for professional salespeople. It’s what keeps them going through the all-too-frequent rejections.

Remember, though, the lyrics from the classic Kenny Rogers song, The Gambler: “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.” The song was about poker of course, but that advice can be applied to sales situations as well.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a question similar to that. “The prospect seemed so interested when we spoke. They just wanted to think it over and asked me to follow up in a week. I did as they asked but then the prospect went dark.”

One of the most impactful Ted Talks I have ever seen was a presentation called "The Happiness Advantage: Linking Positive Brains to Performance" by Shawn Achor.

The presentation is about 6 years old but it is just as relevant today as when it was originally recorded. Check out the link above to judge for yourself.

One of the reason I love the talk is because of a key point Shawn makes which is especially true for folks in the selling profession. We are often conditioned to associate the achievement of sales goals and targets with the attainment of happiness.

In research by the University of Mississippi it was found that groups who preceded solving puzzles by asking themselves “can we solve this” outperformed the groups that told themselves “I can solve this” by 50%. In another experiment one group of participants were asked to write “I will” 20 times before solving a problem and the second group was asked to write “Will I” 20 times before solving theirs. You guessed it; the “Will I” group solved almost twice as many puzzles. It is great to be positive but the process of asking yourself “Can we do it”, like our friend Bob the Builder, actually causes your problem solving ability to kick into high gear.

Ask salespeople to list their least favorite selling activities, and you can count on “prospecting” being at the top of the list. And, the least favorite of all prospecting activities is unquestionably making cold calls.

Tell the truth, didn’t you just envision the guy from the Dos Equis commercial? I LOVE those commercials but even though the spots are clearly designed to be funny they illustrate a very common misconception. The misconception is that whoever has the most interesting stories, life, etc. is obviously going to be able to hold the attention of others as “The Most interesting Person in The World.”

A successful business depends on a successful sales pipeline, one that projects and produces accurate results. Unfortunately, many sales pipelines operate more like a clogged drain, with many of the same prospects, proposals, and “sure-fire” deals sitting in the same place month after month. These stagnant deals lead to inaccurate sales projections, and if left unmanaged, could result in lost jobs and even failure for the entire company. If your pipeline is clogged, follow these steps today to unclog your sales pipeline and get it flowing with accurate deals again.

Most sales people hate to prospect. I would go so far as to say that anyone who says they like to prospect has either never done it or currently doesn’t have to do it. It can be a seemingly thankless effort the results of which often don’t seem justified by the time invested. David Sandler, the founder of Sandler Training had a great quote on prospecting, “You don’t have to like it; you just have to do it.” The inherent truth in that assertion remains unchanged but HOW we prospect has changed dramatically. The average persons’ tolerance for what author Seth Godin terms “Interruption Marketing” has changed dramatically. Laws have been passed regulating phone solicitation, DVR devices allow us to escape commercials while watching television, and anti-spamming laws continue to clamp down on e-mail solicitation. The message is clear; we are sick and tired of relentless “Interruption Marketing” at work as well as at home.

Many salespeople put far too much pressure on themselves to close every prospect they speak to. You might ask; “isn’t that their job?”

The answer would be; “absolutely NOT!”