I recently attended a seminar with a number of different speakers that were discussing aspects of business development and sales success. One of the speakers shared the thought that in their mind, the key is to remember 4 words – “Pick up the phone”.
It is hard to argue with this on a simplistic level as time and again, what we observe with our clients is that activity levels are well below where they need to be to ensure that they have consistently full pipelines.
Assuming though that clients take this first step, and start using the phone as a proactive sales tool to make initial contact; to follow up on whitepaper downloads, to follow up with new contacts from conference and seminars etc, the question then becomes one of skill. This is where the question of polling or prospecting becomes important in terms of turning conversations into meetings.
Polling describes most salespeople and business developers who simplistically are calling and in effect saying – “this is what we do, do you want some?”
Undoubtedly with enough activity behind it this will sometimes work as, applying the concept of the “numbers game”, some people will “want some”. Unfortunately though this only serves to encourage people to continue to “spray and pray” all the while claiming, and often thinking, that they are prospecting.
True prospecting is about working smart as well as hard. It is about focusing your efforts into the areas of maximum likely return. It is about stimulating demand not just relying on finding pre-existing demand.
Prospecting requires intelligence, focus and skill and will be a topic that I return to in future posts but as a start I would be interested to hear the thoughts of the sales community on whether their current habit is to poll or truly prospect.
Senior Consultant at SBR Consulting