95% of our prospecting is just wasted time, so just stop it! It’s too much time to find that 5% who want to talk, and if they really do, they’ll reach out to you anyway, inbound is so much easier.
Think about all the time you are wasting. You are sending those 1000’s of emails–granted, it doesn’t really take that much time, you’ve automated it. You only have to hit a few keys and you can send 100’s of emails to unsuspecting people. “Dave, I’d like to tell you about our products…”
You follow those with phone calls, that’s much more time consuming, even if you have an intelligent dialing system that only connects you to the few people that pick up the phone. “Dave, I’d like to tell you about our products…”
And you know that multi-channel is important, so you have automated tools to help you reach out to 100’s of unsuspecting people on LinkedIn. You can send an invitation to connect, “Dave, let’s connect. I’d like to tall you about our products…” or an InMail, which eliminates the “let’s connect” element.
Technology has saved us a lot of time, it does much of the work for us. But it still takes time to do that. And we know it takes 14 plus touches to get someone to respond, so we recycle, “Dave did you get my email/phone call/LinkedIn note about how I’d like to tell you about our products…”
If your desire to sell is stronger than to help - stop prospecting!
We do that a number of times, finally sending a note/call/LinkedIn message, “I just wanted to check one more time to see if we can talk… I won’t bother you any more…”
We actually bother them another 2-3 times, just to be sure.
We do this, knowing we will get very few responses, but our managers our measuring us on the number of outreach attempts we make every day. “How many emails, how many dials, how many LinkedIn messages did you do? What were the results? Do MORE!!!”
We know the customers don’t want to talk to us. We know the one’s that do are already searching and reaching out, because they have their digital buying journeys.
If that’s the method of prospecting, just STOP! You are wasting your time. Clip this article out and show it to your managers to help convince them.
Go back to your desk and work on your resume, because you know your manager will fire you and hire someone to go through the same cycle again.
They don’t go through the same routines, but somehow their prospecting works. But they approach prospecting differently.
Rather than finding people who want to hear about our products, they find people who they can help and want that help.
First they do their research. They focus on their ICP, they know those are the segments where they can help the customer. They narrow it further, figuring out who, within the ICP, might need the help now! Their deep understanding of the customer, business, and these problems helps them identify those who are likely to be most in need.
Because of their deep knowledge, because they have a history of being helpful, their customer help them. They say, “Go talk to so and so, tell them how you helped me…” or “Let me introduce you to so and so, I suspect they need your help…” These referrals are interesting, they are never, “These guys have a fantastic product you should buy!” They are always, “These guys helped us solve this problem, you might want to talk to them…”
These sales people talk to the prospects about their work, where they have problems, where they have opportunities. They talk to the customer about things similar customers are doing, connecting those people with each other to learn. The conversations are different because they are curious about what the customer is doing, they want to learn, they care. They don’t talk about their products, because they know the customer doesn’t care–yet.
They know the customer wants to talk–about themselves, and what they want to do. So they ask the customers questions to get them to share those. They ask what’s standing in their way and what they are doing about it. They recognize the customer may not know there is something they might do so they bring insights and stories.
Their focus is only on the customer, helping them learn, helping them think, helping them realize they might change.
They keep pursuing these conversations, waiting for the magic words, “Can you help me?”
These helpful sales people do struggle in their prospecting, primarily because of all that everyone else has done to poison the well, talking about their products. But they have a higher chance of breaking through, because their outreach is different, and eventually a customer will listen and want to talk.
These sales people don’t focus on volume. They don’t widen their search to get higher numbers of prospecting calls. In fact, they narrow their search focusing only on those people highly likely to need help.
If you don’t know how you can help a prospect–not generally, but specifically. If you don’t know if the customer is likely to be interested in getting help. If you your desire to sell a product is stronger than your desire to help. Stop prospecting! You are wasting your time and your prospects’ time. Work on your resume instead.
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.
Find out more about Dave Brock on LinkedIn