Barriers to Better Prospecting
We wanted to kick off 2018 by talking about something on the top of everybody’s mind as they plan out the new year – prospecting. Time and time again, prospecting is ranked as the highest priority among sales professionals.
Mark Hunter, “The Sales Hunter,” and author of High-Profit Prospecting and High-Profit Selling, joined us to discuss how to overcome the challenges of prospecting and what techniques are most effective for success.
What are the Self-Inflicted Challenges?
Salespeople often look for the next best tool that can instantly change the game. But new apps and technology don’t change the fact that prospecting…hasn’t changed much. “Everyone is looking for this silver bullet, this tool,” Hunter said. “A lot of things haven’t changed about prospecting – it’s still (about) engaging the customer.”
Quality vs. quantity plays a big factor for Hunter. Salespeople often talk about “lead nurturing,” but the goal, Hunter says, is to identify those people who are most likely to buy and move them as quickly as possible through the funnel. “I could care less about leads. I want quality prospects,” Hunter said.
Prospects, Suspects and Leads
According to Hunter, sales teams clog their pipelines too often. Sales managers cause much of this problem because they funnel in too many junk leads. These pipelines flow smoothly and quickly when sales reps ask the tough questions early on. “What is the true need? What is the true outcome?” Hunter said.
Before a lead becomes a prospect, Hunter identifies them as a suspect. “You want to earn your way out of the suspect village,” Hunter said. “You’re not going to become a prospect until I’ve found what your critical need is.”
To find that critical need, it’s all about asking short questions and listening. Sales, after all, is about having conversations. “It’s not the question you ask, it’s the follow-up question you ask to what they shared with you,” Hunter said. “You’re helping people see and achieve what they didn’t think was possible.”
Can Prospecting be Coached?
“I’ve never seen a Super Bowl team win without coaches on the sidelines,” Hunter said.
Coaches are great for holding you accountable, but it’s up to you to motivate yourself. According to Hunter, the best coaches – and sales managers – understand that they can’t motivate people. Instead, they need to create an environment for people to motivate themselves. This creates a winning culture within an organization.
“What did you learn today, and how are you going to use it tomorrow?” Hunter said. “This is the question every manager should be asking everyday. You really coach people by asking them questions.”
Social Selling vs. the Phone
“My bank does not accept clicks, likes and shares.” Hunter said. “#SocialSelling without social community is social stupidity.”
What Hunter means is that social media can be a great way to build relationships and create a community, but is just one tool in the toolbox. His advice is to use social media to gather information that can turn into an offline conversation. But does the phone still work?
“There are so few people using the telephone that it works great,” Hunter said. By gathering information online before a call, Hunter no longer considers it to be “cold calling.” “I’d call it lukewarm calling,” he said.
According to Hunter, the most effective way to prospect is by using a combination of social media, email and phone. “Repeat, repeat, repeat,” Hunter said. “It’s about asking them questions. Come back and ask a follow-up with more detailed information from the first piece of information.”
What is Most Effective When Someone is Trying to Sell You?
We like to ask all of our podcast guests this question. Here’s how Hunter answered:
“My whole goal in life, is that I want with each person I come in contact with – I want them to sit there at the end of their day and say the conversation they had with me, was one of the better parts of their day. If I can do that, then I can make an impact on people…I like to think what develops the credibility is just listening. Not being the machine – being the individual, human being, because at the end of the day that’s what we are.”
In every episode of the B2B Revenue Executive Experience, we try to pull one nugget of wisdom from our guests that they would impart on a sales professional. Here’s this one:
“One – you start off the week by saying ‘What’s the big outcome I want to achieve for the week?’ Two – manage the day by your calendar. All successful people manage their activities by way of their calendar. It keeps them on task and keeps them moving forward.”
If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.