"What are they doing that we're not doing?" is the question I am asked by leaders more than any other question in my business. They're referring to those organizations who are consistently experiencing growth.
I am in the fortunate position of having been part of high-growth organizations or teams, even when the industry was not growing. Additionally, for the last 6 years, we’ve had the opportunity to work with many executives and organizations, both in growth mode and those looking to change the course of decline. As a result, it is easy to identify some of the key differences between those who grow and those who struggle, have “lumpy” results, or simply lop along each year.
One major difference is prospecting, and specifically the process and the skills associated with it. Here are several predominant prospecting pitfalls preventing sales growth in companies that aren’t doing what the others are:
1. Not making time for prospecting
Revenue generators (those who are responsible for acquiring, retaining and expanding clients) are too busy working “in the business” that they don’t think they have time or need to make time to be working “on the business”. A constant flow of new opportunities, both from current and new clients is required for consistent growth. In companies that grow, prospecting time is not optional and it’s intentional.
2. Lack of disciplined process
Companies that grow understand that prospecting must be a defined and proactive approach. Attracting business takes focus, effort and discipline. They understand that a cadence of touches over a defined course of time is the best way to stay top of mind with their prospects and that giving up too soon is the kiss of death. Recent studies show that the average number of touches with a prospect before they engage with you has moved from 7 to 11.5. Is it better to touch 10 prospects 15 times or 25 prospects 7 times? We recommend a 12-week touch plan that includes 16 defined touches.
3. Believing that "I'm not interested" means "I'm not interested"
What this really means is “not right now” or “not yet”. Assuming the teams are calling on target organizations where your solution could solve one or more of their problems, then the prospects will be interested. It just takes time to build relationships, trust and engagement. We see “I’m not interested” turning into pipeline opportunities all the time in organizations that understand how to respond to this objection.
4. Not getting to the point
Successful prospecting requires that you make the best use of your prospects’ time. They don’t know you yet nor do they understand how you might make their life better. Get to the point of how you will help them. Sales messages that ramble on about your company sound very much like Charlie Brown’s teacher to your prospects. Work on your messaging and get to the point.
5. Not leaving voicemails
Many sales professionals feel that they will just call and call until someone picks up. Hello caller id! They know you’re calling. Voicemail is a great way to communicate how you can help. But it has to be crisp, professional, in their operating reality and to the point. Companies who grow create scripts and ensure their teams nail them.
6. Not utilizing multiple methods of communication
Some companies just want their teams on the phone. Others, want them out “knocking on doors”. Both are necessary for bringing in clients. However, growth companies have a plan for follow up and utilize multiple methods of communication including: calls/voicemail, LinkedIn, emails handwritten notes, texting, networking and other methods of connecting.
7. Not prepared for the prospect to pick up the phone
The whole goal of this process is to create opportunities to have dialogue with new prospects and begin to convert them to clients. Companies that grow have teams that know what to say when the prospect picks up the phone. They train and role-practice on how to overcome the initial objections such as “I’m busy, not interested, happy with current vendor, etc.” If you can’t have a meaningful conversation about how your solution will solve their challenges, then prospecting efforts will not deliver the return.
8. Trying to sell
What? You thought that’s what this whole plan was about - selling! Prospecting is not selling. Prospecting is attracting and building relationships. Nothing turns off a prospect faster than someone trying to “sell” them something. People want to buy; they love to buy in fact, if it’s a solution for them. No one likes to be sold. Words matter. Intent matters. Relationships matter. Growth companies pay close attention to this.
If you feel that your organization could use a little support (or a lot of support) in creating opportunities, Butler Street can help. We specialize in helping companies identify the value their solutions deliver to their target market, build templates and scripts and implement prospecting touch plans. Contact us…