Wanna know a secret? I probably shouldn’t tell, but...well, I think you need to know. So I’ll just shout it out, and then duck for cover, because this really is one of the weirdest things about the wild world of selling. Ready? Here goes: not all sales professionals are good at business prospecting.
Ah. Are you one of them? Does it feel good to know that you aren’t the only one? Good – helping you feel good is a key point of this book. Go ahead and feel good, and yes, feel relieved: you’re hardly alone. Many sales professionals are not good at business prospecting. Some of them, in fact, are terrified of it altogether, and go to great lengths to avoid it entirely. (Oh no...you don’t do that, too, do you?)
Here’s what’s going on beneath the surface. This disinterest or dislike or fear or outright dread of prospecting is all based on one thing: insecurity. And the more insecure a sales professional is about this, the worse it gets. Why? Because prospecting isn’t one of those occasional features of “life as a successful sales professional.” It’s a basic part of landscape, and knowing how to identify and develop prospects is key to continued success.
So does this mean that you have to become a prospecting superstar? No. If you can, then good – become one. But if you can’t, or it’s simply not a part of who you are as a person, then don’t pretend to be one because that won’t work either. Instead, delegate the prospecting to a sales representative. Maybe it’s someone who is already on your staff. Maybe you need to look outside of your walls and hire a professional. Either way, the fact is that you must, somehow, become competent at business prospecting if you want to succeed as a sales professional. Whether that competence is yours, or someone else’s, is not the point. As long as it’s a part of what you do, then you will reap the benefits that great business prospecting delivers.
As a follow-up to this, also keep in mind that business prospecting is not a static event. It’s not a matter of simply identifying and establishing new contacts. That’s part of the story, yes, but it’s not the whole thing. Business prospecting is dynamic and organic. You need to nurture relationships. This takes time, focus, and skill – because who knows in what direction things will grow? Prospects who are interested in a small piece of what you’re selling can indeed turn into one of your most important revenue streams. Or...maybe not. You don’t know; nobody does. That’s where nurturing and cultivating prospects comes in. And, again, if this isn’t your thing, then either make it your thing or go and pay for that thing to become part of your sales team. And, since you’ve been paying close attention, you can cap all of this off with the word: humble. Be humble and know which aspects of business prospecting you’re good at; and which ones you aren’t. Honestly evaluate your skills, spot the gaps, and fill them as effectively and swiftly as you can.