Prospecting is arguably the most underrated part of the sales process. What many salespeople fail to realize is that putting in the proper time and effort into prospecting can make all the difference between a wasted week and a killer sales period. It is crucial that our partners develop the right systemic approach to prospecting. Here are four critical errors to avoid when it comes to prospecting.
1. Your Salespeople Are Not Prospecting At All.
A disturbingly large number of sales professionals fail to do any prospecting at all. It may be due to “call reluctance” or even a skewed belief that proper prospecting is ineffective, but really, any prospecting is better than no prospecting at all. If your sales force is reluctant to prospect for whatever reason, you need to instill in them the right habits and tools to properly prospect.
2. Your Salespeople Talk Too Much.
Generally speaking, salespeople need to feel comfortable talking to new people in order to succeed. However, many salespeople, especially young salespeople, make the mistake of talking too much when they are meeting with a prospect. Whether they are jumping right into the pitch process instead of asking the important questions, or attempting to preempt objections by overwhelming the prospect with information, if your salespeople are talking too much at the prospect, your company is losing sales.
If you suspect that your salespeople are tanking their relationships with prospects by talking too much, there are a few valuable habits and tools that you can coach them on. First, you need to ensure that your salespeople are familiar with active listening and how to employ it to put the prospect at ease. Second, you need to coach them on your firm’s expectations for relationship building with the prospect. There is a time and place to hard sell, and the first time you meet with a prospect is definitely not the time or place.
3. Your Salespeople Make Presumptions About the Prospect.
There is no quicker way to lose a prospect than by making unnecessary assumptions and presumptions about the prospect’s business. If your salespeople rush in to say things like “I can help you!” or “I know exactly what you need!” they are essentially disrespecting the prospect’s authority as a decision maker. Once again, if your salespeople are making this critical error, you may need to coach them on active listening as well as the proper way to point out the utility of your products or services.
4. Your Salespeople Forget the Goal (or Do Not Have One).
What is the goal when you meet with a new sales prospect? Arguably the goal is to make a sale, period. More often than not, however, the right goal for a first meeting with a prospect is to create a personal relationship on which a sale can be built later. If your salespeople are not approaching a new prospect with a concrete goal, they are at risk of damaging the relationship with the prospect. Remind your sales force that they must be goal oriented in their prospecting.