Why Salespeople Don’t Prospect

There was an interesting discussion going on in a LinkedIn group recently, on the question of: “90% of professional salespeople do not consistently prospect. Fact of fiction?”

Don’t sales managers complain all the time that their people don’t prospect enough?  Hmm; if everyone seems to have the same challenge, maybe it’s not the salespeople that are the problem…perhaps there are other hidden forces at work 🙂

Look, what people don’t understand is that there are GREAT REASONS WHY professional salespeople don’t prospect!

  • They are afraid of rejection (a form of fear)
  • They aren’t any good at prospecting, and don’t see a return on it.
  • They don’t like to do it.
  • They are under more demands than ever with the other parts of their ‘day jobs’ (more handholding in deals, servicing current customers, higher quotas, filling out CRM systems, more reporting, etc)
  • VP Sales/CEOs have unrealistic expectations about how much they “should” prospect, the results they “should” generate.
  • Their company doesn’t train them on how to prospect effectively, give them helpful tools or reasonable goals. Usually the guidance is along the lines of “make more calls!”  Wow, that’s helpful.
So those are the problems; what do you do about it?

5 Things You MUST Do To Build An Outbound Sales Machine

From lessons learned at Salesforce.com (I built their outbound sales process and team, and recently published a book about it called “Predictable Revenue”) and in coaching/speaking with many other companies who have succeeded and failed at building outbound sales teams and predictable revenue…

  1. You MUST specialize your salespeople, and have, at a minimum, at least one (better is two) outbound reps focused 100% on prospecting – and that means NO CLOSING or inbound lead qualification. If you can’t specialize today, make a plan on how and when you can. You don’t need to be big to begin to specialize; all you need is two people in sales.
  2. You must use a referral/researching approach rather than cold calling people directly. You can generate quality referrals from cold contacts who have never heard of you via short and sweet email templates.
  3. You must focus on QUALITY, not quantity, of actions, calls and leads (fewer, bigger, better).  This includes having a well-defined activity funnel, and measuring results-based activities (such as “Number of Scoping Calls Completed Per Week”) and never measuring dials.
  4. You must train your outbound salespeople to be “businesspeople who can sell”, rather than salespeople. Not only do they need to have a multi-step outbound sales process that works, they also must be able to have an intelligent conversation with high-level executives, whether via email or phone. You can train young people (even out of college) to do this.
  5. You must SIMPLIFY what you track in your CRM/SFA system (such as a Salesforce.com), focusing on your few, best metrics (like new $ pipeline created per month, qualified leads per month, etc.) You have to get rid of all your extra junk tracking fields that clutter everything, and simplify your dashboards.

Unfortunately, too many companies won’t take the single most important step to make prospecting work – dedicating an inside sales team or role 100% to prospecting and generating opportunities to pass on to the Account Executives/closers.  This is always priority #1!

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