As sales managers, we are always looking for ways to improve sales performance among your team. While it is certainly worthwhile to look for major problems that could be impacting your team’s sales performance, the truth is that there are often some simple yet avoidable mistakes within your team’s overall sales strategy. With so much focus on improving close rates and revenue per sale, it is easy to overlook some of the more easily fixed issues with your prospecting activities.
Prospecting is one of the most important, yet most neglected, parts of the sales process. Without effective prospecting, a sales team will quickly run out of well qualified leads, which in turn dramatically reduces your team’s sales effectiveness. More importantly, improving your sales team’s new business efforts will yield significant productivity gains.
The following are three of the more common prospecting mistakes made by sales teams, along with suggestions on how best to avoid them:
Wasting too much effort upfront on the key decision maker
Getting past the gatekeeper and to the decision maker is something that is engrained into every salesperson. Often, we our sales teams operate as if anyone who is not the decision maker is only an obstacle, and that the ultimate goal is a conversation with the boss.
Unfortunately, this sets up a number of problems. It tends to limit the number of opportunities with a particular organization. Influencers and gatekeepers can be utilized for a wealth of information, background, perspective and insight. This is the foundation for your team to build specific and unique value that will be of more interest to the decision makers. In fact, you might consider a technique used in the Insight Sales Process™ that actually specifies the key insights that are to be collected in the discovery process from these influencers. They are then scored so that there is a consistent effort to gather and utilize this strategy.
The pain of focusing on pain points
Another common mistake when prospecting new leads is focusing too heavily on pain points. In the past, this was considered an effective sales strategy, but it has lost its effectiveness as buyers involve themselves in more self-discovery and grow weary of the initial sales fact finding. Deeper into the sales process it is still important to understand and address pain points, however we need to start the dialogue in a different fashion.
Your sales team must now engage prospects in a more challenging way. They need to lead with disruptive information that reframes the prospect’s mindset. This can be done with risks or opportunities that they might not have been aware of or industry insights of value that were not known.
Frontloading prospect contact
Sales people often make the mistake of too much contact before the prospect is ready for that level of engagement. The real issue is that there is not enough value being delivered as the sales rep fights to get a meeting with an organization of potentially great value.
Part of your successful prospecting plan must include a contact plan that indicates the frequency of contact as well as the follow-up expected. For example, you might consider Day 1 = Voicemail and Email follow-up, Day 4 Voicemail and email follow-up, Day 9 Call attempt only etc. For each planned contact you should provide all message scripts, email content and call scrips. This is the only way to deliver a consistent experience with a set of planned value propositions. It will also help you develop a set of baseline metrics that you can use to test improvement over time.
You can significantly improve your team’s overall sales effectiveness by focusing the three issues listed above.
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