The Essence of Survival
Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle … when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.
There are really only two major parts of the selling process:
One is the part that involves getting in front of enough qualified prospects on a consistent basis.
The other part is knowing what to say and do when in front of the prospect.
It is no accident that most successful salespeople spend at least 50% of their time prospecting. Most struggling salespeople don’t spend enough time prospecting. Your job as the sales manager is to make sure that your salespeople are making the calls. Doesn’t matter how good they are or how awesome your product is. If they are not getting in front of enough potential customers consistently, they will fail.
Prospecting is defined as excavating or working in search of gold. In sales, prospecting is finding customers who need what you sell. There are many theories and methodologies for prospecting. The bottom line is that consistent effective prospecting takes hard work and dedication. There is no magic dust, no short cuts. Here are a few pointers:
- Know what you want. Develop a profile of your ideal customer. What kind of industry or company, how big are they, where are they located, how many employees, what’s their philosophy, are they public or private, etc., etc. You may also create profiles of A and B customers. Decide where you’ll spend your prospecting time.
- Set aside enough time every week for prospecting and commit to doing it. This is critical. Don’t let anything interfere with this commitment. It takes guts and discipline but unless you do it you will fail.
- Master your approach. Doesn’t matter what you call it … 30 Second Commercial, Elevator Speech, whatever. Write it, practice it, and own it. You have a very short period of time to get someone’s attention … some say as short as a few seconds. Don’t blow it. I use several. One is, I help company presidents who are frustrated a sales force of underachievers. Note that even though I provide multiple services like sales management training, sales force development, coaching and mentoring, I don’t mention them. My clients don’t care. They hire me to provide solutions.
- Determine the prospecting mix that will work best for you and your salespeople. Not everyone you contact will do business with you. Neither is everyone qualified. You should include direct and indirect prospecting. Direct prospecting includes, but is not limited to, cold calling, introductory calling, targeted direct mail and email, and actively getting referrals. Indirect prospecting includes the various forms of advertising, networking, free or paid talks, published articles and blogs (like this one) and anything that makes your potential customers awake of your existence.
- Once you’re satisfied with the prospecting mix just do it. The mix is not as important as doing enough activity to keep your pipeline filled. This is what you and your salespeople get paid to do … putting enough qualified prospects in the pipeline to generate the sales and profits that your company needs.
- Track your activity. If it’s working, keep doing it. If it’s not working, do something else.
Remember, when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.
Oliver Connolly helps company presidents and owners develop a sales force of overachievers. He coaches and mentors a limited number of sales managers every year. For more information please go to http://www.clevelstrategic.com email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1 561 480 0563