Sales Closure – It all starts with prospecting

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The Art of Prospecting

Note: This piece of writing is relevant for B2B high value products and services only where the sales cycle extends 04 Months to 01 year or more.

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It all starts with prospecting….

If someone asks me what is the most critical task of a Marketing & Sales (a.k.a S&M) professional, I shall answer Prospecting.

Most S&M professionals who succeed or who fail, can trace back their reason for success or failure in their understanding, identification and approach to building prospects list.

The big number myth….

It is a general myth among the S&M teams that the more leads you have, the more product demos you give or the more meetings you do with the potential clients, the more are your chances of making a successful sale. I have never agreed to this throughout my career.

This myth mounts pressures on the S&M team to have a big heap of prospects & leads. The big heap portrays a rosy picture during the sales meet and, added with generally accepted conversion rates it swells the Sales Forecast. At the end of the S&M meeting, everyone feels happy. But does it have a happy ending at the end of the funnel!

Too Many Prospects – Asset or Liability…

B2B sales has a tedious sales cycle for each prospect – calling, emailing, following up, meeting (physical or web), setting up demonstration, sending a proposal, follow up on the proposal, negotiations, and then follows a refusal or a successful sale. It’s a mammoth effort that needs to be put on each prospect to convert them to a paying customer. Consider a sales representative starts with a wrong prospect; where will the poor chap land.

The efforts spent on wrong prospects eat up time and focus that a right prospect deserves. The bigger heap dilutes the overall efforts of the salesman and sucks his/her energy. The more wrong prospects the sales team has the more are its chances of failure, even on the right prospects.

Before you make your first call or send your first email…

Every S&M professional must master the art of prospecting and be very selective. Indeed, your rejection rate must be higher than your acceptance rate. An adept sales contributor demands less prospects from his marketing comrade but stress on the quality. Every time she/he gets a prospect or a lead, he/she asks why is this contact relevant? Will the customer benefit from his/her product or services? Will the customer have a budget and decision making capacity?

Great sales contributors filter out the crap even before making his/her first call or sending an email. They believe in “Fewer but better fewer.”

How much can one Individual Contributor handle?

In my 20 years experience in Marketing, I can safely say that no individual contributor in sales can handle more than 10 good prospects a month. Even this is too high. If he continues to get these leads over a period of one year he has 120 cases a year and after 2 years 240 cases. Even if we consider dropouts, this is too much to handle / follow..

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