The Prospecting Paradox: Maximizing the Passive
Most salespeople who need to prospect for a living will tell you that it’s a very proactive, immediate results-driven exercise that can be uncomfortable at times. Hard to disagree with that. This is a topic that we get involved with far too often as it’s a common point of frustration for many business owners and sales leaders regarding their selling culture. As we all know, with uncomfortableness comes excuses. Many salespeople also have what we call ‘headtrash’ about prospecting. Headtrash is the thoughts we have that affect our behavior with zero evidence that those thoughts are true. For example, “I can’t call that owner, they’re to busy for me now,” or “I’m going to bother them,” or “They don’t need what we sell.” I could go on and on about this topic. Unfortunately, it’s the slow death of many salespeople because it stifles their behavior.
When salespeople have a behavioral problem, they will always have a technique problem. If they have a technique problem it doesn’t necessarily mean they have a behavioral issue, but behavioral issues always lead to technique issues. If you don’t practice golfing, you’re not going to be a good golfer. It’s that simple. Fortunately, salespeople have the ability to eliminate one of those two issues by doing their daily prospecting behaviors. Yes, you read that right, daily prospecting behaviors. Most salespeople prospect for job preservation. Things aren’t happening in the manner they’d like so they prospect a lot some of the time rather than a little all the time. Big difference. In my experience, the most effective business development people engage in two types of prospecting behaviors: Active and Passive. Active prospecting is what salespeople define as typical prospecting actions such as cold calling, walk ins, meeting people at networking events. The results are usually immediate, yes or no for continuing the discussion. Passive prospecting is like fishing. We cast our lines out and wait to see what bites. The two common activities for this type of business development are prospecting via email and asking for introductions to prospects you’d like to meet that you have common connections with. In LinkedIn speak, this would be a 2nd Connection.
Prospecting Tip: Leverage the Passive
I like to share with our team that a good passive prospecting goal is to send out 10 emails each working morning to prospects they’d like to meet and/or to ask for an introduction from other people they know well to someone they want to meet. If the average person works 250 days per year, that’s 2,500 passive prospecting emails that are sent that otherwise wouldn’t be sent. Trust when I say, as a witness myself, this flat out works!
Create for yourself what we like to call a behavioral cookbook. What’s in a cookbook? Recipes. When the instructions for a recipe are followed exactly, it creates a predictable outcome. In the prospecting world, a cookbook is a recipe of prospecting behaviors, both active and passive, that lead to a predictable outcome. How does one know it’s predictable? Because it’s been followed and tweaked until the desired finished product (outcome) is achieved. Quite simply, it’s been battle tested. It’s critical to have a goal for a particular behavior as well as tracking towards the goal. You must do both! Have a goal and track the activity that leads to goal attainment in order to fine tune for success. Activity ALWAYS precedes outcome!
Losing hurts more than winning feels good so get comfortable being uncomfortable and proactively create the business life you want by actively and passively prospecting the smart way!
About the Author
Mike Jones is co-author, with Ken Guest, of Digital Prospecting: Finding, Nurturing and Closing Sales with Social Technologies, and the owner of The Ruby Group, a licensed Sandler Training center. He has deep personal experience in manufacturing and logistics, and in many other industries, notably professional services.
For more information, please visit www.sandler.com
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