If you are responsible for sales performance, whether as a sales coach and trainer, a business owner or a salesperson, you know that sales prospecting is the most challenging part of gaining new clients. To make this process easier, work on developing these 3 skills to become better in prospecting. Prospecting is easier to do when you have no clients, but as you win more accounts, you might tend to pay more attention to them rather than maintaining the push for new business. While it makes sense that current clients deserve proper attention, quite often they become the excuse for not hitting sales prospecting goals.
No matter what type of approach you use to set your goals, the easy part is planning what you would like to do. The most difficult part of sales prospecting, however, comes after the planning. How do you consistently maintain the discipline required to actually hit your sales goals? Let’s look at three behaviors that can prevent you from reaching sales quotas and how you can overcome them.
Fear and doubt affect sales prospecting behavior by causing you to hesitate in taking action because of perceived barriers or obstacles. You might feel you lack the experience or skillset needed, or you might feel intimidated by a large sales prospect. We all face fear and doubt. If you have a high need for approval, this becomes your biggest sales prospecting challenge. The best way to move forward is to take action, whether it’s by making a phone call, sending a follow-up email, or an in-person visit. Put the sales goal before your need for approval or your fear of failing. Even if you don’t land the sale, you’ll have more feedback to help you take on the next sales call successfully.
While fear can be one sales prospecting obstacle, we can also become distracted and easily find dozens of things to do other than what needs to be done. This is where Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can help. Simply put, KPIs are measurable actions that lead to the sales goals you desire. We will cover them in detail in another post, but they could be the number of calls you make per day, networking events you attend per week, or free talks you present at conferences. While you don’t have direct control over each sales prospect’s final decision, you do have control over the actions you take. Once you determine what your KPIs will be, your lack of focus will turn into completing these sales prospecting tasks on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. Put these important activities on your to-do list first before jumping into the daily distractions that come your way.
Finally, putting things of until later is the ultimate killer of achieving positive sales results. Two parts of the goal setting process should include accountability and a timetable. Without these, your goals are just well-written ideas on a piece of paper. Chances are you know your procrastination tendencies, even if you aren’t always aware of them. Ask those you work with about the behaviors they notice when you are putting off sales prospecting. Once you are aware, the timetable is useful when working toward your sales KPIs. By “scheduling your pain” first, you’ll be able to work on those things you least enjoy. As you do this every day, it becomes a sales prospecting habit. One of my tricks I continue to use is to “just do one.” For example, if I need to complete 20 calls, my inner whining procrastinator easily dissuades me. So, instead, I tell myself, “Just make one call.” Once I get movement with that one call, it easily rolls into the next 19.
As part of PeopleKeys new “Prospecting Success!” training, the goal setting process is thoroughly discussed in relation to the sales prospecting cycle. Accountability involves choosing someone you trust and telling them your goal progress on a consistent basis. When I had my own business, I chose two other business owners to share these goals with and we would meet once a month to check in. While it was non-threatening, I still knew I had to report my progress. Timetables are the second piece of putting ideas into action. Deadlines are powerful motivators, and if there is a valid reason for missing the designated time, you can plan a recovery for the next timeframe.
With each of these challenges, your personality style will play the biggest part in developing your own personal strategies. One powerful tool I’ve used is the Behavioral Attitudes Index assessment that tells you more about your internal motivators. All of this together will help you create a strong sales prospecting discipline that leads to sales success.