In this article, leading sales expert Andy Preston talks about the problem of Poor Prospecting, and how to spot if any of your team are guilty of it……
I’m often asked by business owners, sales managers and sales directors to help their sales team increase sales.
A large part of this is getting better results from their prospecting. Yet the more work I’ve done in this arena, the more I’ve come to believe that great Sales Prospecting is less common than it used to be!
Poor Prospecting is now more common than ever, and its affecting salespeople’s numbers and company budgets and profits massively right now. It’s really important that if your team are guilty of it (or starting to become guilty of it) that you ‘catch’ it as quickly as possible, so your own and your teams’ numbers aren’t dramatically affected going forward.
Here are some signs to look out for that may indicate your sales team are guilty of Poor Prospecting right now….
One of the first signs that your any of your sales team are bad at prospecting is when you notice them avoiding it!
If their role involves other things as well as prospecting – attending meetings, an amount of paperwork, or dealing with existing clients, they’ll try and use these as ‘excuses’ as ‘reasons’ why they can’t do more prospecting!
If you hear your team say things like ‘I don’t have enough time to prospect more’, ‘I’ve just got to finish this xyz thing first…’ or ‘cold calling doesn’t work for me….’, these would all be BIG signs that your sales team (or some members of it) are guilty!
Another indication that your team are guilty of Poor Prospecting would be that you notice they aren’t doing enough of it!
As simple as this may seem, this is a great indicator! People don’t get better at prospecting by researching more. They don’t get better at prospecting by doing admin tasks or ringing an existing client. They get better at prospecting by DOING IT!
Therefore, the less your team are prospecting, the worse they’ll be at it! Therefore they won’t get the results they should. Therefore they do less of it!
And this problem then compounds itself going forward.
Another good indicator of Poor Prospecting is if any of your Field Sales team are travelling long distances for appointments. As business has become tougher the last few years, many salespeople are finding it harder to get qualified appointments with senior decision makers.
Therefore when they manage to get a meeting (or someone else in your organisation books one for them) they’re so glad of actually getting one, they’ll travel almost ANY distance for that single meeting! And if they don’t book many other meetings in that same area, there’s your ‘Poor Prospecting’ indicator!
I’ve seen salespeople travel 2 hours or more to a meeting (and therefore 2 hours back) without booking other meetings in that area (or if they do, they’re probably with existing clients with no immediate need, not qualified ‘new business’ ones with prospects). That often means most of their day is ‘lost’ because of their own Poor Prospecting abilities.
This particular ‘indicator’ has become more prominent over the past few years. Now, I’m NOT saying that using the Web or social media is WRONG, I’m saying that over-reliance on it is a problem!
One of the challenges with the web/social media is that it’s an easy thing for salespeople to use as a way of getting out of other prospecting methods, pretending they’re doing something useful that will give them the ‘edge’ when they eventually contact the prospect…. The key word in that last sentence being ‘eventually’ of course 😉
A common trait in Poor Prospecting salespeople is to do HUGE amounts of research… only to find the decision maker isn’t in when they call, or they can’t get through to them anyway – waste of time!
Yet in their sales activity they can put down they did lots of ‘prospecting’… just poorly 😉
The key to successful prospecting is using a range of methods in order to spread the risk and rewards – so don’t just rely on the one!
Salespeople guilty of Poor Prospecting just love deflecting the attention away from themselves and their prospecting abilities by ‘blaming’ internal issues or people for their poor performance.
My favourite one of these has to be ‘My sales figures are low this month because Telesales didn’t make me enough appointments!’ Classic! Closely followed by ‘Nobody’s heard of us because we don’t do enough Marketing!’ And backed up by ‘Our prices are too high so no one would be interested anyway…’
These classic excuses are dragged out by salespeople all over the world as justification for poor prospecting results, therefore ‘reasons’ why they shouldn’t do it, or do less of it.
Don’t fall for it! They’re just guilty of Poor Prospecting!
If you want some help getting your team to get far better results from prospecting, call +44 (0) 161 401 0142 or contact Andy here……..
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