I’ve noticed an increase in three bad habits perpetuated by sales people involved in outbound prospecting.
Bad Habit #1 – Calling on whatever name happens to be in front of them when they open up Salesforce.com. Think about this for a moment… Rather than identifying individuals we should be calling on based on a formal definition/articulation of our Ideal Target Profile we make countless calls and send endless emails to whatever name we happen to have picked up along the way.
Bad Habit #2 – The second disturbing habit I see is the tendency for sales people to focus their prospecting efforts on a single contact (I refer to this as single-threaded prospecting) even when multiple contacts exist in the database. Rarely are sales made to a single decision maker. Rather, companies rely on several decision influencers. Targeting multiple contacts increases the likelihood of building a constituency and reduces the likelihood of being stuck behind one individual as other influencers emerge.
Bad Habit #3 – When our database contains a target company name but no contact names, sales people must identify people to call. In most cases, I find sales people commit the sin of asking to ‘speak to the person responsible for ______________.’ I cannot come up with a more effective way to ensure you are immediately directed to the office of vendor rejection (aka Procurement.) I know of companies who route all vendors making this ridiculous request to a fictitious employee (complete with a voice mailbox nobody ever checks.)
Do these things to solve the problem
First and foremost, stop dialing whatever name happens to sit inside your CRM. Instead, work from a defined list of target companies and titles that fit your Ideal Target Profile.
Second, invest the extra effort to multithread your prospecting efforts. Rather than pursuing a single contact, commit to calling on a minimum of three target titles. Calling on three contacts at the same company does not takes much additional time or effort as calling on one and dramatically increases your chances of getting in the door.
Finally, don’t ever ask ‘to speak to the person responsible for _____________.’ Doing so flags you as a vendor and shows a complete lack of respect for the prospect or your profession.
It’s simple really….
Regardless of how you feel about prospecting, cold calling is an important part of the sales process. While much of cold calling effort is repetitive and mundane, it is important to know when to engage your brain rather than mindlessly dial the next name that pops up in your list.
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