Prospecting is arguably the hottest topic in sales.
In spite of all the seminars, podcasts, training programs and books, not to mention pressure from managers, most salespeople are prospecting excuse experts. Even when cajoled, pushed and incentivized, salespeople have a tough time getting their prospecting engine to run on one cylinder — at most.
Why is there so much resistance to getting out and finding new customers? Why do people who enjoy selling find it so difficult to sell themselves to prospects?
The answer may be that selling and prospecting require two different skill sets. Even those who are good at closing sales never have enough leads. They balk at prospecting. This may seem strange, but it isn’t.
Think about it. Ask salespeople what they want most and most will say, “referrals.” If that’s true, then why do so few ask for them?
Here’s the point: salespeople are most confident when the path is prepared for them, whether it’s a referral or some other qualified lead.
This tells us that instead of spending time trying to find prospects, it’s much more productive if prospects find the salesperson. Now, keep on going: You must make the impression before you give your presentation. In other words, prospects must have a positive picture of you before a meeting takes place.
While many salespeople may consider this counterintuitive or even nonsense, it makes sense to customers. They want to know, trust and feel comfortable with a salesperson before they buy.
It’s easy to understand why some of those in sales say that getting customers to find them sounds like a lot of work. And they’re right, it is. But wait a minute. Spending time trying to find prospects and getting negligible results is also a lot of work — wasted work. Even if you get in front of a few, the chances are that the timing is wrong, they’re not interested, or “something came up.”
If a prospect doesn’t know the salesperson, it’s so easy to say “no thanks.” To illustrate the point, three emails arrived while writing this article. Two asked for an appointment, and the other was a follow up to a previous request for a meeting. No one has time to meet with someone they don’t know. That’s not all. It doesn’t make sense for a salesperson to use valuable time being turned down— and probably for the wrong reasons.
It’s easy to blow it, so don’t make the deadly mistake of asking for an appointment or, if that doesn’t work, the name of someone they may know that you can contact. If you do, you’re just another salesperson looking for a quick hit. This is how good prospects are lost.