Prospecting is not something you just wake up and say you’re going to be successful at, that would be delusional thinking. The vast majority people view prospecting as the most difficult part of being in sales. The challenge is if you want to be successful, you have to master prospecting and that means overcoming obstacles. I’m going to walk you through the 10 prospecting obstacles that you must overcome in order to be successful. This list comes from two of my books, A Mind for Sales and High-Profit Prospecting.
Video: How to Overcome Prospecting Obstacles, 10 Things You Can Do
1. Get Focused
You have to be focused on totally believing that what you’re doing from a prospecting standpoint is making a difference. Too often, people sit there and say, “Well, I know I need to prospect, but I never get around to doing it.” Unless you are absolutely focused and committed to the task, it just won’t happen. Read on and I build on this as we move through the list.
2. Know Your Outcome
Do this by taking all of your existing customers and write down the outcomes from each one. What result did you help each customer achieve? That’s what you zero in on, because that’s what you’re committed to. The outcome is what you’re focused on helping. It’s not about what you sell, it’s about the outcome you help create. When you start to focus on the outcome, it is amazing how much more focused you become. There you see that I keep coming back to number one – get focused!
3. Identify your ICP
When you wrote down your customer list, you probably saw some commonalities. Therefore, the tighter your ICP (ideal customer profile), the more successful you’ll be. Why? Because you’ll be spending your time on those customers with the greatest potential to buy from you.
It is not about sitting there just making phone calls. It is not about, well gee, that person has a heart. I don’t care if they have a heartbeat. If they don’t line up with your ideal customer profile, don’t waste your time with them. This is especially painful from a lead generation standpoint. Just because somebody downloads an eBook or somebody responds, does not mean they are worthy of your time. Your time is incredibly valuable. Your time is your most valuable asset – you have to understand that. So you can only spend time targeting the ideal customer profile.
What does the ICP look like? This includes where they work, what they do, their industry, their geographical location, the size of company they are in, etc. Identify as many different parameters as possible, and then put these together to create that ideal customer profile. Now you may be asking, will anybody ever match up 100%? No, they won’t. But your goal is to get as close as possible. When you spend your time with the best people, the higher your probability of closing.
4. Clarify the Message
You have to be certain that what you share with them is meaningful to them. You have to make sure your point is spot on, and you do this by making the message you deliver fit the outcome. Again, you’ll see that it’s not about what you sell. It’s about the outcome. You have to raise questions. You have to share information that gets that person thinking about the outcome. That is how you clarify the message.
5. It’s Not About You
I put this one right after ‘clarify the message’ because so many times people sit there and share all this information about how wonderful they are. It’s totally irrelevant how wonderful you are. The customer has a problem, and it’s your job to help them solve it. You have to focus on the prospect, not you. It’s not about you. They don’t care that you were the sales-person-of-the-year. They don’t care how many years you’ve been in business. They don’t care about any of that. If they want to know that information, they’ll go out to the internet and find it. You have to engage them in conversation that’s relevant to their critical needs.
6. Multiple Channels
You can’t sit there and say, “Well, I’m just going to email them. I’m going to email them. I’m going to email them. I’m going to email. Oh, they never responded, so they must not be interested.” How do you even know that they got your email? Don’t tell me you use an email tracking tool. I’ve gone down that path. You can go down that path if you want.
You have to reach out to your prospect by using multiple channels. It may be email. It may be text messaging. It might be video. It might be social media. It might be a number of different avenues of communication – even direct mail. You have to use multiple channels, because what works for you may not be the primary communication channel your customer uses. For example, I like email, but I have a variety of people that can only be reached by way of social media, or I can only reach them through a text message. You must be flexible and able to reach people on their primary means. So, what does this mean? This is what brings me to my next one, number seven.
7. Build A Cadence
Building a cadence will keep you in line; it will keep you going. One of the big challenges people have is trying a few things and they don’t work, so they move onto something else, or they give up part way through. You have to build a cadence and stick to it. What is a cadence? A cadence is the number of steps – it might be 15, it might be 20 steps. Those steps might be broken down, so step one is an email, step two is a phone call, step three is a text message, step four …, step five …, etc. Each of your messages have different value, but you must build a cadence.
8. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
It’s all about repetition. This one builds upon number seven. Maybe you’ve built out this 15-step cadence, you’re three or four steps into it, and you don’t get any response, so you give up. The most powerful words in sales and prospecting are found on a bottle of shampoo: rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat. You have to do that over and over again, day in and day out, if you want to find success for yourself.
9. Commitment of Time
What does this mean? You have to set aside dedicated times to prospect. I even have to in my job. I must dedicate certain blocks of time for it; otherwise, other things come up, because prospecting is not exactly something we want to do. It’s not the most fun thing to do because, man, it can be painful hearing no’s, but if I don’t set aside time to prospect, I won’t prospect. Literally, you must set aside a prospecting hour, prospecting block, prospecting day; however you decide to break it down, but you must do it!
10. The Right Mindset
You’ve got to have the right mindset. You see how I looped back from number one to number 10? Yes, the right mindset is key. What is the right mindset? The right mindset is knowing that you can make a difference, and therefore, knowing it’s your responsibility to reach out and talk to that person.
You know it’s your responsibility to contact them. You know you can help them because of the outcome list that you’ve created. You know you can help them because of the ICP you created. You know you can help them because you’ve been successful. You know you can help them because of the conversations you’ve had with them. Not having the right mindset is why many people struggle in sales. There’s so much turnover in sales because people fail to embrace the prospecting process, and all the want to do is just close deals.
You will never have more to close than once you start prospecting. When people come to me and they say, “Mark, I’m not closing enough deals,” I’ll sit there and ask them, “Hey, how much time are you spending prospecting?” Let me tell you that the amount of time you spend prospecting is directly correlated to the amount of the time you spend closing – that is a fact!
I talk about all 10 of these things in my book, A Mind For Sales. Go check it out! Prospecting is the beginning of things happening in sales, and when you’re successful at prospecting, you’ll be successful as a salesperson. I strongly suggest you read the book to dive deeper into a whole lot more than these 10 items. I have no doubt that this book will impact how you do sales.
When you’re serious about taking your sales career to the next level, continue the conversation on our new virtual coaching and learning tool, The Sales Hunter University.
Copyright 2020, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of A Mind for Sales and High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results.