ACTG Sales Management Blog

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7 Rules of the (Prospecting) Road

Posted by Walt Gerano on Wed, Apr 10, 2019

There are a certain number of rules that must be followed when it comes to prospecting in sales. 

These include, but are not limited to, making the commitment to get out of the cold calling business, identifying who you will ask for introductions and referrals each week, ensuring exactly how you will evaluate your success, and creating a pre-call plan for every single call and/or face-to-face meeting.

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Some people say that rules were made to be broken. You might want to think twice about breaking some of these rules for prospecting.

The most successful salespeople I know are always challenging the ideas and methods of those that have succeeded before them, but they don’t challenge the notion of the importance of making prospecting their A priority every week. They know that no matter how successful they are, if they don’t continue to add new relationships, that eventually, their business will decline. 

Here are some rules to help you prospect and prosper:

  1. Play in your sandbox. Make sure you have a profile of who you need to be in front of. Call on the people and businesses where you have expertise, and can leverage that, along with your experience.
  1. If you are dependent on making cold calls, make the commitment to get out of the cold calling business. You will schedule appointments and make sales cold calling but the acquisition cost per sale is much higher than with referrals and introductions. Not to mention the sales process is generally longer.
  1. Look at your schedule each week and identify who you will ask for introductions and referrals. It could be face to face meetings, networking events or a meeting with a center of influence. Have a process for asking that makes it easy for people to help you. Bring your list of top 10 prospects to every meeting and ask them who they know on the list that would take a call from you? Better yet, make use of LinkedIn and look through their connections for people and businesses that look like your target prospect.
  1. How will you evaluate your success? Make sure to set objectives whether it is with a success formula or a commitment to specific behaviors and then TRACK IT!
  1. Have a telephone approach that when calling for appointments helps you sound like someone they want to speak with. What is your unique selling approach? What problems do you fix and why do people meet with you? It must be compelling.
  1. Do a pre-call plan for every call, on the phone or face to face, to help you stay on track. Know what questions you will ask, what questions you need answered and the tough questions they will ask along with how you will respond.
  1. Don’t quit, be persistent! Rejection is part of the process. It’s not falling down it’s staying down that defeats us all.

Topics: introductions, Cold Calling, Referrals, persistence, success formula, pre call sessions, effective sales process, hunting for sales prospects, ideal prospect persona, sales acceleration, salespeople, sales opportunity

Is Your Sales Team HUNTING or Hunting?

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Nov 09, 2016

When I was a youngster, I used to go hunting with my dad and my older brother, Ray.  I never hunted with my younger brother, Michael, until just a few years ago.  But Ray, Dad and I spent many weekday evenings and weekends in the woods. We were doing two things:

  1. Preparing to hunt
  2. Hunting

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PREPARING to hunt included:

  1. Going into the woods to scope out the places where deer frequented or could be convinced to frequent
  2. Building tree stands in close proximity to deer paths or food plots
  3. Going to the sweet potato or squash fields to pick up potatoes and squash left from the previous day harvest. Sometimes we would get apples or peaches
  4. Taking basket after basket after basket of deer food (see number 3) into the woods
  5. Practicing our bow skills by shooting targets at 20 yards. Dad was so good he could hit a moving quart milk jug!
  6. Getting a license to hunt
  7. Getting the right clothes for cold weather
  8. Getting the equipment ready
  9. More practice

HUNTING included:

  1. Sitting in a tree stand freezing your baguettes off waiting for a deer to show up
  2. Not moving for 3 hours even if you had to pee
  3. Shooting at a deer
  4. Retrieving arrows that missed the deer
  5. Tracking, finding and field dressing the deer if the arrow hit its mark
  6. Carrying the deer out of the woods – sometimes up to a mile
  7. Skinning and butchering the deer (Actually, I did none of #6 or 7...)
  8. Eating the venison (I did lots of this!)

Everything I just listed (and yes, Ray, I’m sure I missed something…) would be defined as HUNTING.  Even if it appears that sometimes it is waiting and not actually hunting, I assure you it is all hunting.

Then... there is the hunting I’ve done the past week:

  1. I joined a hunting club.
  2. I showed up either early in the morning or early in the afternoon.
  3. Brian, the manager of the club, took me to a tree stand.
  4. Using a buck call, I called for and waited for a deer to show up.
  5. If one showed up, I shot it (I actually got my first dear about a month ago) and sent a text to Brian. If I didn’t see or hit one, I sent a text to Brian and he came to get me.
  6. When I hit a deer, Brian and I tracked the deer.
  7. Brian field dressed the deer.
  8. Brian took the deer to the processor.
  9. I picked up the packaged deer meat.
  10. I prepared venison parmesan.
  11. We ate.

This is hunting in my world today.  Notice the differences?

Yes, I still have to practice.  I still have to get my hunting gear together and make sure my equipment is ready to go.  I still have to get up early and get to the game club.  I still have to sit in the tree quietly and not move.  I still have to have skills to put myself in a position to draw the bow, release the arrow and hit the target.  What I really do not do anymore is sit and shoot… or, rather, just sit.

Now, I want you to think about the similarities in HUNTING for deer and HUNTING for prospects.  And then, I want you to answer some questions:

  • Which hunting is your sales team doing?
  • Which steps are they doing?
  • Which steps are they skipping or failing to do?
  • What impact does this have on their ability to close more business, more quickly, at higher margins?
  • If they are not consistently hunting, then what is the likelihood that they will have consistent sales results?

Brian and I went out last week when the weather was rather warm.  It was too warm to expect a good hunt, really.  I knew that.  He knew that.  But I told him I was going out anyway.  On the way to the stand, we talked about the weather and I made the comment, “It might be too hot, but I certainly won’t even get a chance to shoot a deer unless I go into the woods.”

And… there you have it.  Regardless of how you do it, regardless of the environment, regardless of the difficulties you have to face, the reality is that, in order to get someone to say “yes” to your product or services, you must have salespeople who "go into the woods" and hunt!

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Important Resource:

Find out if you have hunters, account managers or farmers – Assess the ability of your current team to grow sales.

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Topics: sales competencies, hunting for sales prospects, sales hunting

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    About our Blog

    Founder and CLO Tony Cole has been working with financial firms for more than 25 years to help them close their sales opportunity gap.  He is a master at using science based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss his weekly sales management blog insights.

     

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