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Prospecting: How To Build Rejection Immunity™

Let’s face it – prospecting can be a drag. There is always something “more pressing” to do - there is always an excuse to put it off. If we allow ourselves to de-prioritize prospecting then rest assured, we will always find a way to justify taking the day off. Which turns into a week off. Which turns into an anemic pipeline. Which results in poor performance over the long run. You get the picture.

Recent studies show that it takes on average 11.5 touches to get a prospect to engage, yet most salespeople quit trying after four attempts. Why? Because rejection is not a motivator. So, to push through the rejection that is inherent to prospecting, we must build “rejection immunity.” If you practice phone prospecting 15 minutes every day, you will develop rejection immunity, and will significantly reduce the anxiety associated with prospecting.

And a big part of reducing anxiety is increasing resilience. As salespeople, we must train ourselves to become more resilient to truly develop the muscle memory and stamina needed to keep at it every single day.

According to Psychology Today (PT), resilience is defined as “the psychological quality that allows some people to be knocked down by the adversities of life and come back at least as strong as before. Rather than letting difficulties or failure overcome them and drain their resolve, highly resilient people find a way to change course and continue moving toward their goals.”

Last year, PT published a blog called 13 Things Resilient People Do. In the context of prospecting, this article reads like an instruction manual for building rejection immunity.

Here are four interesting things resilient salespeople do:

1. Resilient Salespeople See The Big Picture

Successful sellers recognize the importance of prospecting to their success and build it into the overall mental picture they paint about their careers. Yes, prospecting is like brushing your teeth or doing your taxes (not fun but required) yet we have to embrace it and make it a habit. And when you think of your career – always include the importance of prospecting in your mental picture. It’s not just a necessary evil, it’s a critical part of the job. Prospecting is about meeting new people and advancing relationships. Your role is critical to the organization. Nothing happens until somebody sells something (and nobody sells new accounts unless they prospect.)

2. Resilient Salespeople Seek Help

Salespeople who want to improve their prospecting skills and develop resilience are willing to seek guidance from others. By practicing your prospecting scripts with a peer or manager, you become better at articulating your value propositions, you sound more natural, and you reduce the anxiety that creeps into your head and causes procrastination. Make it a habit of role practicing frequently with others. You will increase your confidence – and your results.

3. Resilient Salespeople Develop Multiple Plans

If your prospecting approach is inconsistent and unscripted, you will experience anxiety more often than not. “Winging it” means that you have to think of what you are going to say every time you pick up the phone. At Butler Street, we use a 12 week/16 touch plan as the framework for prospecting activities. We know from the beginning that it is going to take 11.5 touches on average to get a prospect to engage – so we build a plan that takes us beyond the average in order to aim higher than what is necessary for success. A solid prospecting plan focuses on the critical needs and challenges of the target persona and includes multiple ways that your company can help them.

Not every prospect has every problem you can solve at this moment, but they generally will have one or two concerns at any given time. Expect your prospects’ challenges to change over time and use that to your advantage! If your company can solve four problems – then build four different value statement approaches into your prospecting cycle and cover one every three weeks. Methodically covering a variety of challenges over time is much more effective than leaving the same 5-minute voice mail every week that describes everything you do.

4. Resilient Salespeople Practice Self-care

Great salespeople know that prospecting requires energy and stamina, and that their mental and physical well-being have an impact on their success. Just like peak performing athletes, resilient salespeople go to bed at a certain time or avoid certain foods or have a daily meditation practice prior to prospecting.

As someone smarter than me once said:

“The difference between the successful person and the unsuccessful person is this: The successful person is in the habit of doing things the unsuccessful person doesn’t do.”

This is the most important aspect of building rejection immunity. It takes 66 days to build a habit to the point where muscle memory takes over and minding the psychological aspects of building resilience will reduce your anxiety.

In short:

  • Embrace prospecting as a critical part of your success.

  • Ask for help and practice with peers and coaches.

  • Have a plan.

  • Commit to building a habit.

  • Get some sleep.

At Butler Street, we believe effective prospecting is key to both the salesperson and company’s growth. Contact us and let’s discuss how we can help your team master the skills and develop Rejection Immunity™.


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