Prospecting remains one of the most misunderstood and avoided of all selling activities. It’s really ironic when you stop to think about it because filling and maintaining a full pipeline of qualified opportunities is arguably the most important activity in the sales process.
When asked about prospecting, 75% of companies said they were challenged when it came to maintaining the appropriate level of prospecting on a weekly and monthly basis. The goal in pipeline management is to have at least 3X the number of qualified prospects, and dollar value, in any given month in your pipeline. Achieving a 30 – 35% closing ratio based on your pipeline goal should enable you to consistently and predictably meet your sales objective month after month.
Of course we all know the primary reason outbound prospecting is avoided; the constant rejection that is a hallmark trait of selling. Unfortunately, because of our natural instinct to avoid rejection, there is a common trend among a vast majority of sales people today; hiding behind technology to avoid the rejection and discomfort that comes with initiating and making outbound contact. As a result of avoiding this “personal touch” sales approach, sales people are finding it increasingly difficult to differentiate themselves from their competition.
Here’s a question to help illustrate my point. If you are looking for a new job, will your search be more effective filling out an application on a company’s website, or sitting in front of the company’s hiring manager engaged in conversation? Even if a face-to-face doesn’t lead to a job offer, having an actual conversation conveys much more information about the kind of sales person you are likely to be than a collection of words on a digital page ever will.
Here’s the reality of the situation. It’s much more of a challenge to be unique and create a competitive advantage when you’re relying solely on a digital format. It’s also a reality that if you aren’t prepared to effectively initiate outbound contact with a prospect, customer, or client you haven’t met, then you probably aren’t prepared to effectively engage with an inbound lead either.
Don’t think that just because an interested prospect is initiating contact with you and your company via social media or the web, that they aren’t contacting your competition as well-because they probably are. Your ability to respond to an inbound contact is every bit as integral to the growth of your pipeline as your outbound initiatives.
This isn’t about overcoming a fear of “cold calling” or the rejection that is an inevitable part of the process. This is about “relevant calling” and taking the initiative to focus on elevating your contact skills with both outbound and inbound contact protocols so you can comfortably and confidently engage in an intelligent business conversation with anyone at any time. When you possess that skill, you will be in complete control of your pipeline, will have total confidence in your ability to engage others in relevant conversation, and will become unstoppable.
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