We’ve all heard the expression to “wear many hats” at work. In sales, it applies to the different jobs or roles you must fill daily. Sales Professionals can sometimes feel like they take on a different role for each part of the sales process, and if that’s the case, one essential hat is the one we must wear to fill our pipeline with opportunities, and that is prospecting. Because of its solitary nature, prospecting is different than the other parts of the sales process. As such, it requires a different mindset. In addition to the tasks often associated with prospecting, such as leveraging social media, networking, sending emails, and making calls, in order to connect with decision makers, salespeople must also develop a mindset that prepares them to succeed. Here are a few ways salespeople can develop a positive prospecting mindset:
In basketball, it’s been said you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. While this is sound advice that encourages a shoot-first mentality, it isn’t the only advice to consider when it comes to prospecting. While activity is critical to prospecting success, salespeople must resist the urge to blanket every prospect with voicemails and emails in the misguided belief they’re “taking their shot.” This can be counterproductive in lead generation. Instead, create opportunities by seeking out the companies that will most likely benefit from your expertise. Be in tune with industry announcements and follow social media to know when a prospect is rolling out a new product or has acquired a competitor and may need some special insight or service you can provide.
Part of a successful prospecting mindset is knowing the goal is not the sale. Instead, your focus should be on getting the appointment and, in turn, helping people. Whether sending DMs, emails, or making calls, successful prospectors are simply trying to show how they—and not their products or services—can benefit their client. Forget faking it until you make it. One should never fake a desire to help. Not only is this disingenuous, but such an attitude poisons the process. Find those you can help and be sincere in your desire to present solutions to improve their business.
If your clients are like most people, their initial reaction to a sales call is “Nothankyoubye,” and that’s when they’re polite. Think of the number of calls a prospect receives and how their time has been taken up by those who have done zero research in advance and just wanted a quick sale. A positive prospecting mindset always features a value proposition that helps create awareness of needs proposal. You must believe you have something of value that the client needs to hear. Try different ways of reaching out. If the client is an active social media user, try to connect that way. If they’re early starters, reach out first thing in the morning. You should also work on your written communication and send short emails that are impactful, personalized, and catch their attention.
It’s Not Personal
No matter how skilled the salesperson, rejection happens to everyone. More often than not, this has nothing to do with the salesperson. Instead, it’s more likely the timing of your outreach or a programmed response to a sales outreach. Though it may not feel like it, this is good news. Salespeople who start with a positive prospecting mindset know that the timing and strength of how their value proposition is positioned are much easier to fix/adjust over time. If you are confident you are approaching the right prospect with the right value proposition, you are much more likely to pique their interest, gain their trust, and land your meeting.
To be successful, prospecting cannot be something that’s sporadic. This limits your practice, increases the pressure to succeed, and doesn’t keep your pipeline full. Instead, consistent prospecting is far more effective to see tangible results such as a higher call-back rate and more productive communication. The best salespeople make it part of a regular routine they conduct the same day and time of the week while maintaining enough flexibility to tailor their approach to the times and communication styles of individual clients.
Every salesperson who has won a coveted selling award or retired with the proverbial gold watch had to first overcome their initial hesitancy to contact strangers out the clear blue sky. As such, like most things in sales, prospecting is a specialized skill that takes time to master. To be successful, salespeople must first develop a mindset that gives them the best chance of receiving a positive response and, ultimately, secure a meeting. A big part of this is having the confidence to make the call because you have the knowledge or expertise the prospect doesn’t know they need. Essentially, this gives you an advantage every time you put on your prospecting hat and get to work.