The Secret to a Highly Effective Prospecting Effort By Pat Ryan

Posted on Jun 24, 2015 in Archive

It’s not news to say that everyone wants better results from their prospecting efforts.  But, HOW do we make it happen?

Ask yourself:

  • How will we meet our corporate sales goals this year?
  • Are we talking to enough targeted prospects on a weekly or monthly basis?
  • How can I increase results from my team’s prospecting efforts?

Your sales reps are already working hard – making calls, writing proposals, and sending follow up emails to move leads through the sales pipeline.  But…do they have sufficient time for prospecting?

I’m sure many of you have read the best-selling book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Steven R. Covey.  It is a classic, must-read for achievers.  Application of the book’s principles can lead to the achievement of successful projects, businesses, lives, etc. – no doubt.  Strangely enough, application of a few of these principles within organizations marketing to corporate training & human resources has actually led to a paradoxical challenge in many, if not most of them.

First let’s take a quick look at a few of Covey’s principles, then we’ll analyze the pitfall that many organizations can fall into that will hinder their prospecting efforts.

1.      “Begin with an END in mind”

As a sales/marketing executive, your charter is to increase revenue by making sales.  This is the “end” that you need to focus on.  Everything you do should be bringing you closer to achieving that end.  To accomplish this goal, the first and most fundamental task you must perform is to CREATE A FLOW OF qualified PROSPECTS, or fill the sales pipeline.  Without prospects there are no sales.  So, for our example, this is the “END in mind.”

2.      “Be Proactive”

To be proactive in filling your sales pipeline, you have to GO GET prospects.  You can’t wait for them to come to you.  You have to reach out to contact potential new customers.  In addition to creating a comprehensive plan utilizing a variety of prospect discovery methods, you should use the most basic tool at your disposal: Cold calling. Picking up the telephone, calling and asking for business is still, by far, the most effective way to find new, qualified prospects.  It’s not fancy.  It’s not glamorous.  But, it works.  (Marketing tip:  Send a quality curriculum-based e-newsletter FIRST, then cold-call only the “click-throughs” – which makes it more like a warm call – but, that is a subject for another newsletter!)

3.      “Put First Things First”

Most successful people have a prioritized list of things to accomplish every day.

There are never enough hours in the day.  Personally, I usually have a list of twenty things to do each day, but time to do only ten!  So, how does one choose which to do?  Put first things first: Do the most important things on your list FIRST.  Prioritize your list by first doing those things that bring you closer to achieving your goals.

So, what gets in the way of this approach?

Unfortunately, these latter two principles end up contradicting each other within many organizations marketing to the corporate training & human resources world!

First, consider that to be proactive in your endeavor to create a flow of prospects, your organization should be engaging in cold calling – or “dialing for dollars.”  Since this is the MOST effective way (but also the hardest and most time consuming way!) to find new prospects, it MUST be part of any proactive prospecting plan.

Now, we know that the people responsible for cold calling are also those who are the best equipped to do it: the sales people.

But, while they may be the MOST ABLE ones to do the prospecting, the sales people are also:

  • The LAST ones who want to do it – and
  • The LAST ones with the TIME to do it!

Nonetheless, most of the time, sales is chartered with making the cold calls.

Now, consider the day of a typical sales person, who tries to live by the Covey principle: “Put First Things First.”  They are encouraged to focus on the short-term goal of MAKING SALES TODAY. Building the sales pipeline is for TOMORROW’S sales.  In reality, forced to put first things first, sales people end up working on TODAY’S needs:

  • Responding to requests for proposals and/or requests for information
  • Preparing and making sales presentations
  • Working with and closing existing prospects
  • Managing EXISTING customers
  • Attending Sales/Forecast Meetings
  • Traveling
  • Plus, a lot more!

In addition, we all know that prospecting is extremely time consuming – particularly when using sub-par lists (where lots of “drilling down” is required to locate the decision makers within corporate training or HR):

  • 75% of the time is spent LOOKING FOR the right person
  • Only 25% of the time is spent communicating with the decision maker (if you’re lucky!)

This built-in inefficiency virtually guarantees that the LAST thing a sales person is going to do is make cold calls.

We hear it over and over again: Putting first things first leads to putting off the most critical task required to BE PROACTIVE in building your sales pipeline!  Everyone KNOWS they should be making cold calls – but it still doesn’t get done.  When it is done, it is not done consistently or done well, because it is always the last thing to be done.

But, don’t you need your sales pipeline to be built consistently?

… to provide new opportunities to the sales people?

… to feed your sales forecast consistently?

… to grow sales?

The answer is YES.  This contradiction is doomed to wreak havoc in your organization.  If your sales cycle is six months, then you’ll feel today’s weak pipeline efforts down the line – in six months!

Got a weak forecast now?  Look back six months – what was your proactive pipeline effort then?

Expecting your sales people to BE sales people AND produce their own leads without the right tools is going to result in less-than-optimum results – not to mention it is poor deployment of your sales resources.

What can you do about it?

If your sales people must be the ones who cold call, then at least give them what they need to get the job done efficiently.  Give them a PREMIUM list of corporate training & HR decision maker contacts, hand-built from scratch by those with expertise in drilling into corporate training and HR!  This ALONE will reduce the time it takes to prospect by 75%, making it more likely to get done.

The enormous amount of time formerly spent “drilling for decision makers” will be freed up to move forward with CALLING PROSPECTS and completing other important sales tasks.

This will pay huge dividends down the line as your sales people can now focus on what they are BEST at – and WHAT THEY WANT TO DO: CLOSE business!

What if you ignore this?

Doing nothing – and continuing to expect your sales people to produce their own leads using less-than-adequate calling sources, is NOT a proactive strategy for growth.  It is a strategy to ATTEMPT to get more out of less.  At best, it is an unrealistic strategy and one that is doomed to fail – resulting in weak pipeline development, a weak sales forecast, and WEAK SALES.

In the spirit of beginning with an END in mind, consider for a moment: What is the end you are trying to achieve?  Is your “end” to get more with less?  Or is your “end” is to grow your sales pipeline and your sales?  This challenge is yours to conquer.

It’s time to do something about it…  For a list of corporate training & HR decision-makers, call us today. We can help.

To start saving money, contact us today at (651) 457-8600, Ext. 3.

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