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Life Health > Running Your Business > Prospecting

Why prospecting is key to long-term success

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Too many salespeople worry about each of their month’s sales. In fact, business does also. Salespeople are saying “Boy I had a good month. I hope that I can do it again next month.” The manager might even say “Hey gang, nice month, so what is going to happen to our team next month?”

The key here is to quit thinking about sales. They are short term goals and really concentrate on the here and now. I like to believe in longer range goals and focus more on the future and keep things much more consistent over the long haul.

Let’s take a little science into my thought process here. Study after study shows that in business to business selling situations, salespeople usually close between 50-70 percent of their legitimate prospects. That means that the customer was ready to make a decision.

Who they will buy from, what they will spend, and when they will make the decision, is what determines a genuine prospect.

With that in mind, if a salesperson has four prospects for that specific month, that would equate to having approximately two sales towards their performance quota. Let’s assume that they need four sales for the month to be at 100 percent of quota, which would put them at about 50 percent of plan.

Early in my career while working at Xerox, we had to sell five copiers per month to be at 100 percent of our sales goals. You wanted to be at 250 percent because if you achieved that goal, you received a bonus for each quarter.

The big income to achieve, when I was a sales rep for Xerox, was being at 250 percent of plan or better.

To me, it was very simple to set up my income goals. If selling five copiers put me at 100 percent, then I would need at least 14 copiers sold to get me well over 250 percent.

Using the numbers that I discussed before and figuring a 50 percent close rate, I needed 28-30 prospects per month (I just like round numbers, so let’s use 30). That was it! I now had a game plan that I could manage and stick with. It was simple, straight to the point and something that I could not let up on.

I decided to concentrate on the prospects and if I did this on a continuous basis, the sales would naturally follow.

Geeze, did that plan work. The sales were better than I expected. I was well over 300 percent for the year, and was way ahead of all the other salespeople.

It was a very simple trick. I quit thinking about sales and concentrated on always keeping my prospect base at 30 legitimate customers that were ready or fairly close to making a decision. By staying in touch with the current prospects, and continually adding new ones, there was not going to be a slump in my sales. No spikes or even bell curves, just a nice easy flow of sales that evened out all year long.

Quit thinking about the month when you should care about the year.

Hal Becker is a nationally known speaker on sales and customer service and the author of two best-selling books “Can I Have 5 Minutes Of Your Time?” and “Lip Service.” He is the closing keynote speaker at this year’s Senior Market Advisor Expo in Las Vegas.


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