Prospecting is one of the most difficult tasks for sales professionals. It takes commitment and consistency – but, most of all, it takes patience. Salespeople are not always the most patient people in the world; we love to move things forward quickly to drive results. However, in the world of prospecting, patience and discipline will reap rewards.
Guard Your Prospecting Time as Non-Negotiable
If you’ve taken our Vortex Prospecting™ class, you know that you must have non-negotiable time blocked on your calendar to prospect. Vortex Prospecting is a multichannel, cadence-based approach to strategically choreograph outreach. When prospecting, conflicts inevitably come up, but you can't cancel that prospecting time block. Instead, make sure you reschedule it. This requires discipline, strict scheduling, and holding yourself accountable to make sure that you don't allow your time-blocked prospecting sessions to get cancelled or supplanted by something else. It’s all about being focused and getting rid of distractions, while at the same time communicating authentically and connecting to your prospect with something of value.
Do Your Homework to Develop a Message that will Resonate
To connect with prospects, your message has to be about them, not about you. You need to flip the script and focus on their needs, wants, desires, and problems, not just your need to book a meeting or give your product spiel. If you’re pursuing a publicly held company, take the time to scan their financial reports and read the CEO’s letter to the shareholders. Typically, these letters are painstakingly crafted to be forward-looking and outline the company’s goals, objectives, obstacles, risks, and challenges. By linking your messaging to the company’s top-line issues, you have a much better chance of being successful. For privately held companies, review their press releases or news articles about them in a local business journal or the industry trade media. You can often learn a lot about the company, its funding, and its top executives that way. You don’t need to be a financial analyst or an industry expert; you just need to do enough research to get some clues as to what might resonate and then craft your messages around that. With so many companies adopting automated cadences, some outreach via personalized messages will demonstrate you've done your homework and will stand out.
Stick to a Planned Prospecting Cadence
When you are trying to connect with someone new, you don't know their preferred method of communication. So, sales reps must be prepared to reach out to potential buyers via multiple channels. For example, you may start with an email with value added information, and then follow up two days later with a phone call, leaving a message if you get their voice mail. You can then wait two days and send a LinkedIn InMail asking to connect, and then call again three days later. Your cadence is a sequence of events over time that mixes up the mediums of communication to reach out to people most effectively and should continue with multiple touches over a 30-35-day time period.
Most salespeople give up too soon on those sequences. After four or five attempts, some sales reps make the mistake of moving the prospect to the back burner if they haven’t responded. However, our research on B2B Prospecting Challenges from the Front Lines found that 54% of initial meetings required more than five touch points – such as phone calls, email, and social media outreach – to book an initial meeting. This demonstrates that tenacity, determination, and patience are all essential skills in sales. The same survey reported that only 18% of sales reps spend nine hours or more on weekly prospecting. Ideally, reps should spend an average of two hours per day or 10 hours per week on proactive prospecting.
The fallacy of prospecting is that once you get a prospect on the phone, you can start selling and be successful at it. That's just not true – it’s only the first step. If they do answer the phone or respond to your email, that's not when you launch into a pitch. It's all about getting some basic information to see if an opportunity even makes sense. Once you understand more about the prospect and their challenges, you can be in a position to determine if you can add value. When you call people who aren't expecting your call or email, you are an interruption. And so, it's critical to figure out how to be seen as a value-added interruption in order to be successful.