Sales Prospecting: How to Earn Money Faster
Here’s a tidbit you may not already know…
Spending too much time on low probability prospects can put a serious damper on your sales execution and the receptivity of your audience.
A sales team that is not effective at qualifying prospects before they begin their sales process is like someone holding a heavy metal concert for classical music enthusiasts. You may have gotten people’s attention, but they aren’t going to like what they hear.
Prospecting is one of the most critical activities for any sales team. But it needs to be handled effectively for your reps and your organization to reap the maximum benefit.
Why Sales Prospecting Matters and How We Get Distracted From It
Prospecting is one of (if not the most critical activity) that sales reps can engage in. It represents the very top of the sales funnel and the first activity that needs to be completed to establish new sales.
It seems counterintuitive, then, that many sales reps seem to be opposed to prospecting. They constantly make excuses not to do it: they have other concerns to tend to, they don’t get paid to prospect, they are already filling their quota. Many reps end up putting sales prospecting off indefinitely. Even the sales reps who don’t postpone their prospecting are often hindered by a less obvious foe: low probability prospects.
Avoiding Low Probability Prospecting
One of the most important things for a sales rep to learn is how to avoid low probability prospecting, or targeting prospecting efforts towards those who are not well qualified. There are several kinds of unqualified prospects; in some cases, prospects may be unqualified because they do not currently have the budget for what you are selling, but will soon.
Other prospects may appreciate the value of what you offer but don’t have a need for it right now. Although it is certainly worthwhile to keep these prospects in mind for future efforts, it’s important for a sales rep to be prospecting for those who are currently qualified to purchase what they are offering.
So, how can a well-meaning rep avoid the trap of low probability sales prospecting?
It’s not always easy. Even the most seasoned sales reps have moments where they are engaging with a prospect they thought was qualified. But then the sales meeting ends, and no one has sold anything.
One of the easiest ways to avoid low probability prospecting is to use quality prospecting processes. Prospecting tools, such as CRM platforms, are designed to help make it easy for sales reps to determine whether or not they are targeting prospects that need what they are selling. With the right CRM, you can develop a sophisticated buyer persona, allowing you to set out your guidelines for a perfect prospect:
- Need: There should be an issue or problem that your service or product can help address.
- Willingness to act: Will the prospect be willing to purchase what you have to offer any time soon?
- Access to a decision maker: Do you have access to the one who is capable of making this kind of decision?
- Priority: Does your solution rank high enough in the organizational priority list?
- Budget: They should have enough money to afford what you are offering.
These are five things needed for a prospect to be qualified, but these characteristics are only the beginning. Sales reps also have to work to make a connection and relationship with the prospect so that your business can be considered a suitable vendor with whom the prospect will choose to spend money.
Remember that for any organization, a sales rep is not the only method for prospecting. The creation and utilization of marketing content through marketing automation platforms can be a great asset for helping with qualifying prospects in the early stages. Also, make sure to ask for referrals from past business partners or groups to aid in your qualification process.
The potential for prospecting is endless. Once you and your sales team understand that saying “no” to a prospect isn’t the end of the world, you will succeed in your efforts to find qualified customers for your business and stop wasting time on low probability prospecting.
To get started, review your pipeline and sales activity from the previous year. This will make it easier to identify and highlight some of the low probability prospects from your pipeline, and help you focus on the sales prospects that have the best chance of helping you meet your sales goals.
If you’re interested in speaking more about optimizing your prospecting process (or that of your sales team), get in touch. I’m happy to help.
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