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The Sales Prospecting Death Trap

Everything starts with prospecting. If you don’t have a prospect to call on, you can’t make a sale. And if you’re a salesperson, “no sale” means “no money”.
Early on in my sales career, I hated and feared the word Prospecting. It conjured up images of randomly knocking on people’s doors or calling their homes or office and trying to sell them stuff they didn’t need or want.
And yes, technically, that is ONE form of prospecting. Randomly calling on people simply just because you have a name and a number.
This is a death trap for salespeople.
You can be the Tony Robbins of Phone Sales PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) and you will still eventually fail at selling by phone unless you master the art of prospecting.
And the good news is, it’s easier than ever, once you are taught what to look for.
I think the fastest way to help you, is to share a simple true story that happened to me, that supercharged my sales career into high gear.
Here we go.
I was just hired as a new sales rep for duPont REGISTRY in the online advertising division.
My job was to call and close luxury auto dealers on listing their cars on our website. Sounds easy enough.
I was given a bunch of old, unclosed accounts that were handled by whoever sat in the chair before me (as most sales people start out at a new job – you have to earn the trust of your manager to handle the fresh hot occasional inbound lead – at least that is how it was in my day)
My sales manager, who I will ever be grateful to (he took me from being a top closer, to a complete end to end sales person) told me I also needed to start prospecting for “new accounts” as part of my normal sales routine.
I went ice cold. Just the thought of having to find and call prospects that were not even in our database or at least at one time a “hand raiser” did not appeal to me. At all.
But something happened… Sales Managers and Directors, pay attention…
He didn’t just “tell me” what to do… he provided insight and expertise on how to be successful at it.
Here is the one simple, eye-opening prospecting technique that changed my view about prospecting forever…
He taught me how to pick my zebra out of the herd.
Instead of creating a random list of people and then “hitting the phones, smiling and dialing”, he taught me WHERE to look for NEW leads and HOW to pick the right ones to go after.
In this particular case, all he had me do was grab the latest duPont REGISTRY magazine, and look through each page, and TAG all the companies who were doing a full-page ad.
Then, look them up in the system and if another sales rep in our internet division was not working them yet, mark the account yours and start the sales process.
(Hang with me if the obvious hasn’t hit you yet)
He went on to say:

“Ignore the small half page ads or the quarter page ads – those are people just testing the waters to see if advertising works or who have small ad budgets (or both) and you don’t want to waste time with them”

The light bulb went on so bright for me it was if I was staring straight into the sun itself.
In essence, he taught me that there are “markers” that will indicate if a prospect is a higher potential for a sale.
So, rather gathering a list of all the Ferrari and Lamborghini dealerships in the world, I now could focus on the dealerships who were:

  • Needing my target audience of leads
  • Offer the high-end products my audience wants
  • Already spending advertising money (full page ads)

So instead of calling 100’s of dealerships once, I could focus calling 20 dealerships 100’s of times (if necessary) and my efforts would not be wasted on leads that I would need to first “convince” that they need to advertise.
Side note: I eventually would go buy a copy of our competitors’ magazine at the time (the Robb Report) and look through THEIR ads to see who was doing full page ads and grab those leads.
I was LOVING prospecting because now I knew what to look for and have a high % win rate by calling leads that were not even in our database or have had any interaction with our division.

Today’s Prospecting is Even Easier

With all the tools to drive in traffic and leads into your CRM and with tools like Datanyze and ClearBit that will actually analyze and tell you each leads demographic such as: annual revenue, number of employees, location, industry… all the basic stuff you need to shrink your prospecting list into a highly targeted lead list.
The first step to help you avoid burnout in sales is to know who your target audience is. Know what your target audience’s KPI’s (key prospecting indicators) or ICP’s (Ideal Customer Profile) looks like and then invest 20 to 50 minutes a day (preferably before phone time) building that hit list.
When you know who to target and what to say to them after you pick up the phone, you’re going to start winning more deals.
It’s really that simple. Notice I didn’t say “easy”… I said simple.
– Michael Pedone
Michael Pedone teaches outbound sales teams exactly what to say to get sales conversations started with hard to reach decision makers. He is the CEO/FOUNDER of SalesBuzz.com – An online sales training company.

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