Selling is easy. We all know it. It’s PROSPECTING that’s difficult.
In fact, the number one reason sales professionals FAIL in a wide range of industries is not that they don’t know how to sell…it is because they do not know how to prospect.
Or, if they do know how to prospect, they don’t do it consistently enough to keep their pipeline full. It’s like any other good habit that we want to maintain, like exercising and eating right. In sales, many of us face the same struggle when it comes to our prospecting, which results in frustration and “dry seasons” —ultimately leading to rising attrition:
1. We identify a number of prospects and call on them.
2. We begin the sales cycle focused only on those prospects (i.e. we stop prospecting). We gather facts and information for a solution to our prospects’ situations.
3. We conduct sales presentations over the next three months (still, no prospecting).
4. We make sales (but now have no more prospects).
5. We start all over again!
This is a process known as oscillation, which is moving back and forth between desirable and undesirable behaviors.
So how do you stop this dangerous cycle? How do you foster a consistent habit of seeking out and qualifying new people to talk with concerning your business?
There are a couple answers to this question. You may already understand that there are countless ways to prospect–whether it is through social mobility, mastering the art of getting referrals and introductions, improving your listening skills, etc. The list could go on.
With this in mind, you must first discern, through trial and error, what approaches work most effectively for you. Only you can decide this, because you know your strengths better than anyone else, not to mention the business relationship dynamics that are unique to your profession or industry.
Second, you must adopt a STRUCTURE that keeps you focused on key activities on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Besides adopting small habits as you interact with people daily (i.e. keeping your eyes open for opportunities to help others and build relationships), you need to set aside time every week when you will do nothing but prospect. This time must be treated as sacred.
Chances are you have heard this before, and you will hear it again. The point is, with this knowledge, what will you do about it.? Can you set aside two hours per day, or five to ten hours per week (whatever measure you deem suitable for you) to do nothing but seek out and contact new prospects for your business? This is your challenge for this week.
And not just this week…but every week to follow. The more you do it, the easier it gets, just like anything else!
Keith F. Luscher (Google Search) is the author of five books, including Prospect & Flourish and Don’t Wait Until You Graduate. He is also a recruiting director for The Money Foundation /H. Beck, Inc. Prior to this work, he served professionals in the insurance and financial services industries as a management consultant. In that role, he advised producers on issues related to marketing and prospecting, and developed groundbreaking educational curriculum. Luscher previously worked in capital fund raising for eleven years, serving nonprofit organizations around the country. In addition, he is also a nationally known author, speaker, and expert in media, interpersonal communication and marketing.