“Value the relationship more than making your quota”

Jeff Gitomer

What’s the purpose of prospecting?

Ask anybody in sales this question and they will say something such as, “the purpose of prospecting is to get people to give you an appointment.” Sales reps think their job is to try and convince people to give them an appointment. They believe if they go on enough appointments and talk to enough people then everything will work out fine. Keep in mind, some sprinkle in some fairy dust into this logical thinking.

You’ll also hear, “sales is a numbers game.” If you see enough people and make enough presentations then you’ll close enough deals. Come on people, how old school! That archetype was from decades ago. Sad to say, most companies, and sales managers still believe, preach and teach this approach. Thus, this is why there’s so much turnover and failure within the sales profession.

“I’m looking for needle in haystack. I’m looking for a deal to close in 30 days.”

WHAT HAPPENS…

Let’s all agree sales is a numbers game. Soooooooo, if your goal is to speak with “X” number of people, to set “X” number of appointments, to close “X” number of deals, what happens to you when you fail to achieve the goal? You feel like crap and you’re miserable, as your quota breathing manager is lurking over your shoulder watching your every move. No matter how strong-willed you are you can only take so much.

The question becomes… what should you do?

What are prospects? They’re people, plain and simple.

CHANGE YOUR THINKING – CHANGE YOUR RESULTS

I urge sales leaders to help their sales team take action! Start viewing prospecting as an art. The canvass is a human to human conversation. I get it, sales is a numbers game, yeah, yeah, yeah… then shift some of your numbers logic to…

  • How many new conversations are your sales reps opening up every week?
  • How many new relationships are your sales reps opening up every week?
  • How many new social connections are they adding to their network every week?

I encourage you and your sales team to take ownership of their own sales funnel. With a slight change in mindset, give thought to this isn’t about your sales reps, their wallet and the “needle in the haystack” approach to prospecting. I realize and get there are monthly quota’s and quarter ending bonuses, but without a healthy relationship funnel how can your sales reps have a healthy sales funnel?

“The more you know the more you grow.”

What if prospecting was about more than finding a deal in the 30 day window? What if it included building relationships and driving conversations to build a foundation for a healthy sales funnel?

Relationship development leads to opportunity development which leads to sales development. Therefore, your sales reps must become diligent with developing the relationship funnel.

HOW MANY PEOPLE DO YOUR SALES REPS KNOW?

In the March-April of 2017, Harvard Business Review article, “The New Sales Imperative”,

“The number of people involved in B2B solutions purchases has climbed from an average of 5.4 two years ago to 6.8 today, and these stakeholders come from a lengthening roster of roles, functions, and geographies. The resulting divergence in personal and organizational priorities makes it difficult for buying groups to agree to anything more than move cautiously, avoid risk, and save money.”

If your sales team applies this article to prospecting then the question for you becomes…

How many relationships are your sales reps opening to effectively manage a sales and relationship funnel?

Filling up a relationship funnel requires two way communication and conversation. Building a healthy and credible relationship funnel means leading with insight, education and story-telling.

What are sales reps doing to earn the right to have a conversation? Are sales reps only prospecting for the now? Are they prospecting for the later? Or, are they prospecting for both?

MANAGE THE FUNNELS

A favorite saying of mine is, “Sales reps are consistently inconsistent.” Prospecting is part of the sales profession. I don’t care what others may think! Prospecting is a non-negotiable daily activity but why does it become a negotiable activity for many?

When it comes to prospecting, I encourage all of you to take a mental snapshot of the number 8. The curves of the number 8 can correlate to relationships moving in, around and out of the funnel as they move in, around and out of the sales funnel.

Just as there is top of, middle of and bottom of the sales funnel; the same applies to the relationship funnel.

How sales reps develop, nurture and build a healthy relationship funnel will play a significant part in the strength of their sales funnel.

“Sales reps must be consistent with their prospecting efforts or accept inconsistent sales results as a way of life.”

Check out our latest podcast as we dive into… prospecting to fill the relationship funnel.

PROSPECTING IS A DAILY ACTIVITY

We know how important the correct amount of sleep and exercise has in maintaining your health, then why does prospecting seem to be one of those things sales reps should do more of but probably don’t?

I get it, prospecting gets sluffed off often because there’s a lot going on in a sales reps busy day. Really? Rest assured a lot of it happens to be more urgent but not necessarily more important.

Here lies the problem and it’s quite simple, sales reps prioritize their to-do list based on urgency, thus prospecting never gets their full attention until it becomes an actual emergency!

People, if you wait until your pipeline looks like the Sahara Desert, then it’s already too late. The truth is you should be prospecting (and you know it) when times are good, not when they become desperate.

It’s a balancing act of effectively managing both a relationship and sales funnel. The issue lies with if you don’t manage one effectively then how can you manage two effectitvely?

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