In a previous BrightTalk webinar, I surveyed the audience of sellers and asked,
“What is your biggest challenge in prospecting?”
I thought the results were extremely interesting – and they validated what I’m hearing from many businesses and sales pros about their challenges in new business development.
Of the 120 live viewers, those that responded said their number one issue is “finding the right prospects” followed by “getting a response” from prospective customers or buyers.
Seems like a legitimate problem and certainly, if you don’t find the “right” prospects, then getting a response is definitely tough.
Here’s the rub, though. When I’ve opened up the pipelines, the funnels, the target lists, and take a look at prospects, there’s (generally) nothing wrong with the prospect pool. They’re ideal customers, fairly well prequalified, but sellers are NOT getting responses to their phone calls, their emails, their offers for coffee, lunch, cookies, donuts, et cetera.
Therefore, sellers are assuming that they don’t have the “right” prospects. They’re assuming that if these are the target customers, they would take their calls, answer their emails, open their doors, and welcome them in with big buckets of cash and fat, exclusive contracts.
That’s called “hoping”, not “selling”. It reminds me of a quote from entrepreneur and author, Jim Rohn, “Don’t wish it were easier. Wish you were better.”
What’s happening in most of these prospecting pipelines isn’t a lack of target customers, it’s a lack of great selling skills to move and compel your customers. How do we know? We asked OUR customers. We asked them to share what they REALLY thought about the phone calls and emails they received from sellers and the consensus was the base for this blog post: “Dear Sellers, Your Sales Messages Are Crap.”
Does this sound like you? Are you constantly looking for prospects because the ones you have are unresponsive – don’t seem like they want or need your product or solution?
In truth, your next customers could already be in your pipeline, hiding in plain sight, lurking right under your nose.
Before you pay for another list, another service, or pay to sponsor one more conference . . . try improving your selling and engagement skills with your existing pipeline.
Breathe new life into your pipeline by improving these two skills:
Improve your messages. And you’ll improve your responses and then, conversion. Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes and ask yourself, if you received 8-10 phone calls and emails every single day with messages just the same as yours, would you bother responding? Take a good, hard, objective look at the way you’re trying to communicate with your prospective customers:
- Are your messages compelling?
- Are you getting their attention with relevant and value-driven content?
- Are you laying out your credibility with references, referrals, or similar clients you’ve helped?
- Are you reaching out to them in a channel that makes sense to this person and their job role?
- Are you personalizing and customizing your messages?
New business only happens one of two ways. It either falls out of the sky and lands on your plate or you have to go out and build relationships by engaging people that have not considered that they have a problem that you can solve, or have not considered YOU their problem solver. Your job as a seller is to figure out how to engage these people so you can have conversations that convert them into customers.
Get BRILLIANT in your messaging. Push the reset button and start communicating with the existing prospects in your pipeline with more original, thoughtful, compelling, and credible messages.
Be gritty. By definition, “grit” as a character trait, is a person with a “firmness of character; indomitable spirit.” But grit as defined by psychologist Angela Duckworth is “perseverance and a passion for long-term goals.” Grit, as Duckworth discovered, is the bridge that takes you to success when you pursue difficult things and stick with it over a long period of time.
Buying has evolved as buyer behavior and buying tools and technology have evolved. Decisions now are simply taking more time (the buyer’s journey has increased over 22% in the past 5 years – Marketbridge). Sellers that demonstrate more “grit”, are less likely to give up before their competitors.
Look into the opportunities in your pipeline and ask yourself if you gave up too soon. Do you possess these gritty qualities:
- Persistence. It takes an average of 8 attempts to reach a prospective customer. How many attempts do you make before you give up? Do you try different channels? Do you circle back with different messages? If you really believe this is a qualified prospect, have you demonstrated why you think you can serve them better? Following-up and following through better than everyone else who gives up because the win wasn’t easy will position you to be there when your customers need you.
- Consistency. One of the secrets of successful performers and athletes is that they are consistent in their practices and routines. Having a process that you execute consistently gives you a proficient way to execute more calls and have more touches with your prospects. If you’re not tracking when you called, what messages you sent, how you contacted your prospect . . . you can see what a mess you’d have if you were trying to make contact a minimum of 8 times. Use your CRM and the many awesome tools out there to be organized and consistent in your selling efforts.
- Discipline. It’s hard to not suffer from “shiny object syndrome” when we’re bombarded with messages and multiple devices to be distracted. Grit requires diligence to go the distance with your prospective customers. Grit means having the stamina and determination to not quit because it’s not easy. The more you’re determined to be better and learn and practice your (selling) skills, the better your performance and results.
If you’re wondering if “grit” can be learned, it’s worth watching Angela Duckworth’s Ted Talk on Grit and I also highly recommend her book for its incredible stories and lessons for life, parenting, and business. Certainly, grit is a personality characteristic, but it’s also defined by your behaviors and actions, and as Duckworth suggests, is the most important indicator of future success.
What would happen if you were to dig into your pipeline, your CRM, your list . . . and take a look at the potential customers you’ve tried to reach without success? Imagine if you could generate responses or conversations from just 25% of those contacts that are already sitting there, gathering dust.
Think of how much time would you buy back if, instead of searching for (or complaining about) more prospects to serve the same tired messages with two or three attempts . . . you got better at engaging people and started converting more of those already in your pipeline.
I’ll leave you with another Jim Rohn quote in case you were tempted to brush this off with excuses or tell yourself, “yeah, but that doesn’t apply to me”
“You must take personal responsibility.
You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself.
That is something you have charge of.”
Until next time, stop hoping, start SELLING!