Why Won’t Your Salespeople Prospect

Even for sales teams that receive leads from marketing or inside sales, lead generation may still be part of their job. Consequently, some sales managers have to become experts at hiring salespeople who can prospect. Others have to become skilled at training their reps to prospect.

If your sales team thinks prospecting is cold calling, they aren’t going to do it.  And, why should they? Who wants to sit down and make 20-50 calls a day to an unqualified list of strangers in hopes that someone might be interested. The reality is that these people don’t want to hear from you, won’t answer the phone, won’t give you time to explain why you are calling, and won’t return your calls. That is one huge dose of unnecessary rejection. Hope is not a prospecting strategy.

Hope is not a prospecting strategy. Click To Tweet

A rare handful of sales reps love the challenge of cold calling, for all the rest, you need some anti-cold calling strategies for lead generation.

A Few Anti-Cold Calling Ideas

Prospect their current customer base. The math is simple.  You already know your product is a good fit for your existing customers.  So how many fewer calls would it take to make a sale to a qualified customer than a stranger? What would the results look like if your sales reps allocated half of their prospecting time connecting with existing customers, making sure they are happy and uncovering potential needs?

For this to work, they need a systematic plan to stay in touch with all of the key players in each of their accounts.  If they need reasons to stay in touch here are a few: thank them for their business and see how things are going, find out if they are going to an upcoming industry meeting, send an article that you think they will find interesting based on conversations you have had in the past, see if they need to reorder, introduce new products or invite them to an event. The easiest sale that you will make is to a satisfied customer.

The easiest sales that you will make is to a satisfied customer. Click To Tweet For more prospecting tips click here

Consistently ask for referrals. Calling on a referral is bound to get a better result than calling on a stranger.  First, the prospect is qualified, or you wouldn’t have a referral.  Second, you are not a total stranger, you have an introduction from someone they know.  Calling the referral is easy.  Getting the referral seems to be the catch.

Why aren’t your sales reps asking for referrals? It may be that once the sale is over, sales reps are quickly onto the next prospect.  If they spend some time connecting with existing customers, they would know who is a happy customer and who they need to work with to turn into a happy customer.  Happy customers are a walking advertisement for your company. 

If they need some help asking for referrals, here are some ideas: ask customers for their business, and let them know you are looking for more great customers like them,  ask for introductions to potential customers or at least ask to use them as a reference.

When your sales team starts asking for referrals your revenue will soar.

When your sales team starts asking for referrals your revenue will soar. Click To Tweet

For more tips on asking for referrals click here

Network with purpose at events. Calling someone you have met and has expressed interest is always more effective than cold calling. What would results look like if they spent just 3 hours a month networking effectively?  If your sales reps say networking doesn’t work, then they probably aren’t doing it effectively.  If they are walking up to strangers and making a pitch, it is just another form of cold calling.

Successful networking, like anything else, requires a good plan and some skills.

With networking, it is all about first impressions, so here are some tips to help them be successful.  Start by making sure you are attending the events with attendees that fit your target audience.  Make sure you are dressed for success, have business cards and a great attitude.  If you can attend with someone who can introduce you, that is very effective. Spend the time learning about the people you are talking to, not talking about you, your company or your product. Make appointments for follow up calls and meetings.

For more event networking tips click here

Network with social media. Your sales reps may be employing social media cold calling. They are just replacing one form of cold calling with another that will be equally annoying to the prospect. Connecting with people that you’ve been introduced to will deliver better results than spamming.

If your salespeople aren’t sure where to start, try LinkedIn. Train them on how to use LinkedIn effectively. Have them build an engaging profile, connect with people they know so that later they can leverage those connections for introductions. Have them develop a plan to interact with their connections frequently by clicking like, commenting on their posts and sharing great content.

For more social media tips click here

Stop Cold Calling

When you start doing the math, the equation becomes very clear, cold calling is a waste of time. Improve your outcome by anti-cold calling. Prospect where you have connections. Prospect in your existing customer base. Ask for referrals. Attend networking events. Use social media.

I love to prospect and I am good at it. If you need help, let me share my energy and enthusiasm with you and your sales team and teach them how to prospect. I can’t wait to hear from you. Call 775-852-5020 or answers@aliceheiman.com

About the Author Alice Heiman

Alice Heiman, the CEOs Sales Coach. According to Forbes.com, she is among the world’s leading experts on the complex sale. She strategizes with sales leadership and provides innovative ideas to grow sales. Originally, from the widely known Miller Heiman Group, Alice and her team incorporate the newest research and best practices to provide sales programs that generate immediate and sustainable results.

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  • Barry Hall says:

    Many thanks Alice, as usual great information.
    Best regards

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