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Why is every rep struggling with sales prospecting?

Why is every rep struggling with sales prospecting?

Why is every rep struggling with sales prospecting? Here’s why. Most everything we’ve learned about selling sabotages our chances of converting the disinterested. 

In sales prospecting, we are taught to make plausible arguments for why our solution benefits the customer.  You’ve heard these maxims a thousand times: 

  • Don’t sell products or services, sell solutions. 
  • Use Socratic questioning techniques to lead your customer to your product. 
  • Know the steps to overcome objections. 
  • Now, more than ever, when you are prospecting, you need to challenge your customers. 
  • Be strategic…and so on

There’s good stuff there, but focusing on the message and its delivery first is the perspective that’s killing your ability to prospect, find, and close deals. Why? Because the customer’s willingness to listen is more important than both your ability to communicate and the message you’re sharing. And customers’ willingness to listen is in steep decline.

5000 Messages a Day

In the last fifty years, media consumption has doubled to almost 11 hours per day. We are barraged by over 5,000 messages daily. We now have hundreds of channels to choose from besides the typical emails, texts, and voicemails. And the list will continue to grow. 

The villain in this sales prospecting story is information. We are easily overwhelmed. 

For salespeople, the resulting problem is two-fold: 1) the availability of information reduces the need for a rep as the primary educator of solutions. “Why do I need to talk with you if I can’t just google it?” And 2) your prospecting email or phone call is getting buried. The net effect is that you’re more unwanted than ever. 

It’s why the response rates to prospecting emails are below 3%, and cold calls only lead to an appointment .3% of the time. It’s why many have declared that cold calling is dead. 

What’s interesting—or more accurately, disheartening—is that the most popular solution to overcome this daily overexposure to media is to send more messages—increase the volume coming from you to the prospective customer. The Keller Research Center at Baylor University, who conducted the widely publicized study that produced the dejecting stats above, concluded: “Bottom-line, increasing engagement (i.e., sending more messages) will help break through the clutter of not only the hundreds of ad exposures per day but the thousands of ads and brand exposures.” 


Prospecting Series – Part I

The higher the resistance in your customer, the more you should increase the frequency of your message? This might be a viable approach for the marketing department, but it’s killing sales. And yet, this is the only advice we’ve been offered to convert the disinterested: work harder, send more messages, and make more calls.  Try harder. Prospect more!

The typical result? 

Increased resistance. 

I recently came across a blogger who said it well: “They say it takes seven exposures to a product ad before you’ll want to buy it, but after 8,743 spam emails for Viagra, I still don’t want it.”

Sales is not a sport. More messages don’t guarantee better listening — they usually do the opposite. There’s a better alternative than bombarding hundreds of closed prospects to find the precious few willing to consider your message.

And it starts with a principle. 

When people are emotionally closed, the more you try to persuade them with logical arguments, the more closed they become. 

Simply stated, if someone is emotionally unreceptive, the truth doesn’t matter. 

A seed that lands on concrete doesn’t germinate. If the soil isn’t fertile, the quality of the seed just doesn’t matter. In fact, we’ve learned during the last 20 years of studying sales conversations that the receptivity of the audience has more impact on influence than the most persuasive message. 

We’ve simply missed a step. Creating fertile soil always precedes planting. 

In this next series, my goal is to offer a few tips on how to radically change the way you think about sales prospecting. You will learn how to prospect effectively by eliminating resistance, and then you will start building a healthy pipeline. In the meantime, check out our podcast, sAles with ASLAN, where we talk shop while drinking the latest brews. 

1 Comment

  1. Angela Zeringue on August 6, 2019 at 9:23 pm

    No one has a silver bullet. But looking forward to reading how to eliminate some of the resistance and in the process get a few more people to listen to the message. Thanks.

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