Sales Prospecting

A dreaded thing for many a sales person. Why? Does it need to be? I think not.

The Problem

Too many sales people view prospecting as work. I once read a fellows definition of work, “Anything you do when you’d rather be doing something else.” Can’t remember where I read it, but it stuck with me. Why? BAD ATTITUDE!

There are Other Ways

If your attitude stinks, what do you think will happen during your day? Will it be a good day, or a bad one? We often decide what our day will be like before it even starts. What to do? Change your view.

Quit Working

Quit working? That’s right, quit it! Now I didn’t say quit your job, but I am saying stop working. If you think sales prospecting is something you do when you’d rather be doing something else, you’re forgetting why you’re in sales in the first place; to help people.

Find the Joy

Sales prospecting should be fun! It should be exciting! It should be helpful! It’s about people. Will you sell everyone you talk to? No. But does that mean you need to get down in the dumps because a sale didn’t happen or someone was rude? Did you enjoy the interaction? You won’t always, but many times you will. Did you learn something? Did you laugh? See where I’m going? Sales will come naturally to you if you’re honest, likable, compassionate, and you put others first. Genuine interaction will lead to this if a true need is there. So relax. Have fun. Don’t take the process of sales prospecting so seriously. Look to build a collection of relationships instead of a collection of notches on your bed post. View it as a time to meet people, interact with them, and get to know them. Make prospecting a hobby. Something you do for fun, not work.

Image: marchbox


A passtime many don’t seem to participate in. Oh sure, everyone thinks, what’ll be on TV tonight, what’s for dinner, what excitement will the weekend hold; but that’s not the kind of thinking I’m talking about. I’m talking about action thinking. Thinking that leads you to, or helps you focus on actions that increase knowledge and helps you progress.

Action Thinking is a discipline

It takes drive and determination to act on goals and improve performance that leads to success. Keeping a desire to grow at the forefront of your mind is imperative if you truly wish to succeed in business or life. We really are what we think. If we think it, we will become it.

What to Think about?

Here is a list of some of the things I think about every day as I sit at my desk and help others grow their businesses:

  • How did I better myself today?
  • How can I serve better?
  • Have I learned something new today?
  • How is my attitude today?
  • How can I help my customers profit by the use my products?
  • Why are my customers loyal?
  • What can I do today that will help me earn more loyalty and trust?

This is just a short list of thoughts. Many of them are written and hung around my office. This helps remind me that growth requires action and my success weighs heavily on whether or not I’m complacent or proactive. Even if my body isn’t always moving, my mind is. I strive everyday to turn thoughts into actions. What are you thinking about during the day?

Two key tips for better Action Thinking

1. Make the time to do it – Set time aside to really think about how you want to grow, what you want to be, how you can improve what you do now; even if it’s only for 10 minutes a day set this time aside.

2. Keep a notebook, smart phone, or any other recording device  handy – Thoughts come at the strangest times. Have a way to record them.

Take the time to think, actively, and then take the time to turn thoughts into actions. It’ll chance your life.

Image: Success from the Nest – One of my favorite blogs. Wish Tony was still writing it.

Free Enterprise

Those of you that know me know that one of my passions is entrepreneurialism. In fact I spend most of my time working with both new and seasoned entrepreneurs every day. It’s rewarding, fun, and challenging.

Because of this love, it shouldn’t be a surprise to you that I like the site freeenterprise.com, a project of the US Chamber of Commerce. It was started to encourage those who would like to start a business, those that have, and those that wish to support those who are entrepreneurially minded.

While freeenterprise.com posts regularly about small business, what I really like about this site is the video contest they’ve been running encouraging people to tell the world what entrepreneurialism means to them. Once a video is up, the Free Enterprise Community is encouraged to vote on their favorite videos. The contest is almost over and they are down to the top 5. All are great videos. All are very encouraging and/or inspiring. Here are my 3 favorites in order from top to bottom. To view the rest of the vidoes, visit freeenterprise.com’s video page.

Is it? Is your story alluring? Does it beguile, bewitch, or enthrall? Is it fascinating, engaging, maybe even mesmerizing? No? It can be…it’s all in how you tell it.

I was thinking about the TV show This American Life the other day and remembered an interview of Ira Glass, the host of the show. It was an excellent interview that spoke to the importance of not just telling a story, but telling it well and telling it with a rhythm that holds the audience and makes them want to discover the meaning of the message.

When I thought of this interview it made me think of Bobby Rettew, a good friend and a great videograpther. Every time I’m with Bobby he tells me, “It’s all about the story. You have to ask the question, ‘what’s your story,’ and then tell that story in a way that engages.” It sounds simple enough doesn’t it? It is…it’s just not easy to do.

If you feel the story you use to describe yourself or your business falls short of the adjectives listed in the first paragraph of this post, watch the interview of Ira Glass below. It’s packed with good advice and it’s only 5 minutes long. If you want more, visit Bobby’s Blog, read up and then connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. He has links to these sites on his blog. He’s a smart guy and you’ll find he’s very helpful.

Learn More to Earn More

I was talking to one of my colleagues the other day and we got to talking about how few salespeople actually know how to sell. So when I came across this post by Gavin Ingham, I had to agree him. Garvin said:

“I never cease to be amazed by how little effort many salespeople put into improving their sales skills.”

So true! The thing is, there are millions of sources out there that teach people how to sell better, but few take advantage of them. To prove this point, look at what Garvin says about reading books on the subject of sales:

“One of the questions that I ask of the audience in my Selling in Tough Markets (or Selling in a Recession) keynote speech is, “Who is currently reading a book on selling?” The answer is usually about 2% of the audience at any one particular sales conference.”

Pretty sad! Like Garvin, I wish I could get salespeople to invest time in reading about sales. The old wives tale that you either are born to sell or you’re not just isn’t true. While some are naturally better at sales than others, anyone can learn to sell that puts their mind to it. So what benefits will reading bring you:

  • Learning new skills, strategies and techniques. If each book that you read delivered you even just one new strategy, one new skill and one new technique what would that mean for you, your sales results and your business over the next 5-10 years? A heck of a lot – that’s what. Top performing salespeople tell me that they always learn something from every sales seminar they attend or every sales book they read. It’s only less successful salespeople that come up with the line, “I knew it all already”.
  • Revising, improving and re-energizing existing skills. As Anthony Robbins is fond of saying, “Repetition is the mother of skill”. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. I am constantly amazed by how much I “get” from rereading really quite basic books that I have read before. Sometimes, several times. It’s not that there is something new in there, it’s that you see stuff differently and make critical distinctions that you did not make on the first read.
  • Building motivation and self-confidence. People who study have an inner confidence. It comes from knowing that you know your stuff, knowing that you are in the top 5%, knowing that you can do a professional job and knowing that you have put your time in.

This is just three points Garvin made, to see more swing over to his post. So we see there’s power in books on this subject, but there are so many other ways to learn if books aren’t your thing.

  • Audio Books. Why read when you can listen.
  • Blogs. This is a great way to get a short daily burst of sales encouragement.
  • Podcasts. It’s like blogs on tape.
  • YouTube. There are many great videos on selling too. Just look around

So here’s the point. Most salespeople suck. They don’t understand how to organize themselves, how to follow up, how to build trust, or how to close sales. It’s time to wake up! With all the ways you can learn to improve your sales, there is no excuse to not excel! The ball is in your court, how will you play it? To give you a head start, here’s a great video by Garvin about cold calling:

No Can Be Your Friend

The word “no” can be your friend! One of my favorite books on the subject of no is Go for No. It touches on points I’ve been teaching my students for years!

If you’ve trained with me, or if you’ve been to one of my marketing seminars, you’ve heard me say, “When someone tells you no, smile and ask for a referral to 3 or 4 more people that will tell you no, because you need 3 or 4 more people to tell you no before you get to a yes!”

This book takes you one step further. It tells you to go for no to get MORE yeses!!!! You see, too many people go for yeses. Once I get to their quota of yeses they stop. What Go for No teaches is not to stop until you get to your “no” quota, not your “yes” quota. This is great advice and something every salesperson should read! Pick up a copy from Amazon.com or see if your local book store can order one for you.

Want a little taste of what you’ll learn, check out this video:

Your Sales Pipeline

Some call it a funnel and some call it a pipeline. Either way I’m talking about putting potential customers in one end with the hope they will come out the other side as a sale.

Selling is not a perfect business. There is emotion, fear, desire, and need involved. People buy for many different reasons. It would be nice if we could just walk up to a customer, show them our product and they write a check. Does it happen? Sure! Just not very often!

Instead of looking at sales as a one time thing, we need to look at selling as a process. Similar to how a farmer sows seeds into a field, you need to sow an interest in your products into your customers. Not every seed will sprout, just like some of your customers won’t be interested in what you sell. That’s why farmers sow so many seeds, they expect a percentage to fail.

Every time you show your products to a potential customer, they start to travel down your sales pipeline. Some slide right through and buy right away, some won’t even consider going in the pipe and others meander down the pipe as they make their decision.

It often takes time for your customer to get to the end of your pipe. It could take days, it could take weeks. It doesn’t matter! The point is to keep the pipeline full.

So how can you feed the people in your pipeline so they don’t turn and walk out the way they came in? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Thank you cards. When someone shows interest in one of your products, but doesn’t buy, send them a nice thank you card for considering what you’re selling and let them know you will follow up at a later date, or offer a buying incentive. (so much off, free case, something like that)

2. If it’s a trusted customer, offer to leave the product with them to test for a few days. This is called the “Puppy Dog Close”. Once you get it in their hand and they get used to using it, they’ll want to keep it.

3. Be sure to mention the product each time you see the customer. This is not being pushy. This simply gives them another opportunity to buy. Remember! We live in a busy world. We all need reminders from time-to-time.

Since I specialize in training sharpeners, while on the road, I take some time and ride with a few of my students when I can. Almost all the shear sales I see them make are not impulse buys, but the result of sowing interest in the shear over time.

How do you keep guiding customers into your pipeline? Well for starters, be sure your customers know you sell shears and/or other products. Then be sure you have some to show! You can’t sell from an empty wagon and people like to touch and feel before they buy. Give them something to touch and feel!

One thing is certain, your customers will buy what you’re selling from somebody. If you take the time to show them what you have, and remind them of it, they will eventually buy from you!

Image: saleslogistix.com/services/Pipeline – SalesLogistix is a consultancy focused on implementing the most complete and usable SFA / CRM systems. They provide advisory and services for any SFA system, implement / extend Salesforce.com, develop custom Salesforce applications, and sell add-on products for Salesforce.com users.