Hindsight is 20/20 – 4 Key Prospecting Fundamentals I Wish I’d Learned Sooner.
I’ve essentially been in sales for my entire career. Over the years, I’ve had many achievements and overcome many challenges. Everyone always says that closing the deal is the hardest part of sales, but in my opinion, prospecting is the hardest part.
For the first 10 years of my sales career, I worked in retail. In most retail sales jobs, the customers come to you. Retail selling is more about product knowledge. You still need to be good at qualifying, overcoming objections, and closing, but you don’t have to prospect.
I learned the importance of prospecting skills when I first became a financial advisor. It was a very humbling lesson. I graduated at the top of my class in my finance program and I really thought that meant I’d start making tons of money instantly, as soon as I became a financial advisor. Boy, was I wrong!
My first day on the job, my boss said, “There’s your desk, there’s the phone, go get some clients”. Let’s just say I ate a lot of Ramen Noodles that year. I was a great advisor, I was good at the sales process, but those skills were totally worthless because I didn’t have any prospects to use them on.
Proper prospecting prevents poverty- Jeffrey Gitomer
Fast forward another 10 years, and I am now an expert at prospecting, but it took several years and several jobs for me to figure it out. It turns out that I wasn’t the only one who needed to develop my prospecting skills. A lot of companies and sales professionals need help with prospecting.
Here are the 4 Key Prospecting Fundamentals needed to optimize your prospecting efforts:
- Leveraging Technology – The term Tech Stack is used to describe the set of integrated programs and applications used in your sales efforts. These programs all are part of an extremely fast-growing industry. There are many options when choosing your tech stack, so it’s important to select the right ones for your needs. How do you find prospects’ contact info? Which programs integrate well with each other? Which programs are better for specific industry demographics? Which ones do you need?
- Understanding Data & Insights – The term Business Intelligence also applies to measuring the success of your sales efforts. Which email message is getting the best response? Which prospect persona is most responsive? How many calls do you need to make to get one sale? Do emails work better than calls?
- Find Good Mentors – A good mentor isn’t someone just telling you what to do. They are observing your efforts and identifying ways they can help you. They are also letting you observe them so you can see what success looks like. On an ideal sales team, everyone is mentoring each other. Is your sales team collaborative or just competitive? Is everyone sharing ideas or keeping them as secret advantages? Is the compensation structured to promote collaborative efforts, or is the sales team pitted against one another over bonuses?
- Have a Playbook – Having a Playbook is often the most overlooked fundamental. Ironically, it’s also the most important! How often do you call your prospects? How do you follow up with them? How do you keep track of everyone? How do you repeat and scale your efforts?
If you can answer these questions and master these 4 fundamentals, then you will have no shortage of prospects. Again, it only took me 20 years to figure this stuff out. Don’t worry, in the next few weeks I am going to go into more detail on each of these 4 Key Prospecting Fundamentals. Follow me here, comment and let me know what you like (or don’t like), and feel free to send me a connection request.