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  • Momentum Selling

5 Top Reasons Why a Company’s Phone Prospecting Initiatives Don’t Stick

Updated: Jun 24, 2020

When it comes to sales, there is one tactic that is a must do. Phone prospecting initiatives are the life blood of new business growth – but often sales teams are faced with the reality of time vs resources. Sales people, managers and company executives alike all acknowledge that there is a requirement to do phone prospecting, and that it’s a valuable part of doing business.  However, approximately 50 % of sales professionals do little or no phone prospecting in their day-to-day. Instead they rely heavily on inbound leads and existing customers to get them to target.  There are many reasons why efforts to increase phone prospecting activities and behaviours fail to get the desired results.  Below are 5 of the more common ones that we have come across.

   1. Lack of focus on the client during an interaction

People naturally want to speak to what they are most comfortable with in conversations with others – In sales this generally is our company – our products - our features and our solutions.  Note the use of the word “our”. Because most people are not comfortable with prospecting, when they do get around to doing it they will often find themselves falling back to subjects that are most comfortable for them.  

It is important to always remember that prospects will not want to meet for the purpose of hearing about your company, products and services.

You need to build into your script a compelling outcome or benefit statement that could resonate with the prospect. Try to personalize it to their business or industry. Remember you are trying to create interest and engagement and the best way to do this is to talk about the prospect and what in it for them.

   2. Prospecting is not built  into your daily process

Peak performing sales people and teams will hard code prospecting into their daily DNA.  They understand and do what must be done to consistently outperform quota. In contrast, average and under performers rely primarily on closing inbound leads and add-ons in the hope of getting to quota, often falling short.  For peak performers prospecting is built into their routines, calendars and daily actions as a disciplined requirement to drive their success.  

Repeat or practice anything enough and not only will you get better at it but it will become a function of long term memory and thus much easier to do. If prospecting is something that only happens randomly when the funnel is very low or all other daily acceptable activities have been abated the effectiveness is diminished and the chance of long term success much lower.

   3. Failure to reinforce the correct behavior

Many organizations tend to put far greater emphasis on the overall sales results than the behaviors and daily activities that will drive consistent and sustainable growth and success.  Be cautious not to over focus and reward the efforts on the bottom half of the pipeline and forget about the top half. Although the efforts of your top performing (often tenured reps) are critical to the success of the organization and deserve to be acknowledged, don’t miss opportunities to also reinforce the diligence of others. They may be doing all the correct best practices for growing their client base and the corresponding growth and future success of your company.  Be sure to recognize them for their efforts.

Sales people who commit to making their target phone prospecting metrics (dials/connects) regardless of the myriad of other distractions in their day, need to be regularly and sincerely acknowledged. These are your all-stars - make sure you are taking the time to visibly and consistently reinforce and reward them. There are numerous ways to show your appreciation and gratitude through spot, daily, weekly acknowledgement in both individual or team settings.

   4. Failure to coach for skill development

One of the underpinnings to success at anything is skill or proficiency in the activity itself. How many hours of lessons, training and practice does a musician or an athlete perform to master their instrument or sport?

We can appreciate that phone prospecting is low on the favourite thing to practice list but like any other activity it becomes easier to do when you have a coach. Not only will coaching improve technique but also increase accountability, focus and motivation.  Corresponding improvement in outcomes will act like a flywheel to drive forward the opportunity engine and increase both prospecting activity and results.  

But the Number One Reason we find that companies are not successful in their prospecting efforts is:

   5. They do not take ownership in the teams accountable for doing phone prospecting

There are many examples of when the managers and a sales culture fail to hold people responsible to prospecting but below is a recent example that may hit home for some.

We recently observed a series of national prospecting blitz afternoons for a mid- sized B2B technology company to which an 80% participation rate was met by the sales team in week one. When we asked where the other people were we were told they had customer meetings that conflicted with the weekly blitz and that the company motto was the customer always comes first.  In week 2 the attendance rate fell to 65%.

Digging in deeper we found that several of these missing people had also booked customer appointments during the previous weeks set prospecting blitz time.  In addition it also seemed another 15% of the sales team had realized that the customer comes first. Unfortunately the blitz never made it into week 3 and was cancelled due to many conflicts.

In order to become a peak performance culture, we would recommend making prospecting the top priority of your sales reps, sales management and in some cases your entire company.  Depending on your type and line of business, this includes finding the correct balance between the quantity of prospecting phone calls to complement all other lead generation activities.

Not worried about prospect calls?

In May of this year I was making morning prospect calls for our Effective First Calls prospecting program (I do this 4 times a week) and when I spoke to one particular VP of sales he told us that cold calling was not something he worried about. Specifically his response to my request to meet and help was “I am the VP and my managers and other people took care of that kind of stuff”.  Taking another stab to qualify and engage this contact I asked him if he owned the sales revenue number for the company and he responded.  “Of course I do – I am the VP of Sales” and hung up.

I noticed in September (4 months later) that he had been let go by the company and they had posted for a new VP of Sales.  Need I say more on this point?

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