About 11 years ago when our oldest son was nine, I got him involved with spreading mulch around the house.
Other than cleaning his room and bringing his dishes to the sink, this was the first time my wife and I got him involved in doing some real work around the house. It was a Saturday in May, and the mulch was delivered Friday. I got our son excited about helping out around the house. In the past, we had hired this project out. Previously, our son had seen a crew of people come over to the house to spread mulch through-out the gardens, but this year, my wife and I thought it was time to get him a little more involved in contributing around the house.
Aren’t there people for this?
I would load up the wheelbarrow, haul it to the garden, dump it, and then our son would spread it around with a little four pronged rake. Despite the fact that I didn’t want this chore, things were going well. We were having fun while we worked…at least for a while.
Well, about 45 minutes goes by, and I noticed our son standing there in the garden with a puzzled and slightly disturbed look on his face. I asked him, “What’s the matter?” He looked at me and asked one simple question… “Dad, aren’t there people for this?”
Remember, every year he had seen people providing this service for us, so his question is logical. I simply explained that, from now on, those people are us. I tried to help him understand that now that he was old enough, he had to help out a bit more around the house…so we were going to do this job together. Doesn’t that sound like fun? I didn’t really ask him that.
What’s the point?
Simply put, success requires hard work. Successful selling requires prospecting, and prospecting is hard work. Prospecting is still one of those activities that you can’t dish off to others. Other people can assist, but you, as a sales professional, will also have to consistently prospect yourself.
Many companies provide telemarketing (prospecting) support. But the outside sales team cannot rely solely on a telemarketing team for prospecting support and lead generation. In the end, it’s the outside sales team’s responsibility to bring on new clients. Therefore, the outside sales team must prospect for new business…no exceptions if you plan to be successful.
Hopefully you said duh when you read the above.
This is sales 101. And although there may be people assigned to assist you with your prospecting activities, your selling success requires your full participation in the prospecting process. If you don’t want to prospect, you should probably consider changing careers.
Prospecting is a lot like rebounding in basketball. It takes some skill, but it mostly takes hard work and consistent effort to be successful at it. Certainly some prospecting skill, product and industry knowledge is important, but more than anything, it requires consistent hard work. You’ve just got to pick up the phone, and get at it.
By and large, most successful sales professionals will tell you prospecting is not their most favorite activity, but it’s necessary in order to achieve and maintain success over time.
A couple tips
• Ask the top sales producers with new client development responsibilities how much time they spend on the phone prospecting each week.
• Determine how much time you need to spend prospecting each week in order to achieve your new client development and revenue goals.
• Create a schedule for yourself that ensures you set aside the same day and time each week for your prospecting activities. Do not let anything detract you from your scheduled day and time each and every week.
• Don’t time-slice your prospecting activities. Schedule the same block of time each week to get your prospecting done. This is too important of an activity to be inconsistent and/or fragmented. Fragmentation kills momentum.
• Create momentum for yourself by reserving two to four hours for every prospecting session.
Once you’ve created your plan (the above), now keep track of your performance as compared to your plan. Each week, review and determine if you are sticking with your time plan (priority management). If you missed it one week, no problem, assess and discover the obstacle that disabled you from sticking with your prospecting plan. Make adjustments, and move forward.
There’s no way around it. Sustainable, successful selling requires prospecting. Build your plan…work your plan.