Posted by Mike Scher

May 22, 2015 8:27:00 AM

I took my daughter to Barnes and Noble the other day. She needed to find a book for a school report.   As she was searching the isles, I wandered around the store.   The next thing I knew, I am in the “self improvement” section.   As I peruse the titles, I couldn’t help but notice all the different diet books on the shelves. They had low carb, low fat, gluten free, etc.   This got me thinking.   Why are people overweight if there is all this great ‘advice’ out there?shutterstock_124195066

As a company that sells software to optimize prospecting, I couldn’t help but correlate this thought to the world of business to business prospecting. Like the variety of diet books out there, the plethora of opinions, discussions, blog posts, webinars and, yes — books written on prospecting is endless.

When you ask sales people their view on prospecting, there is no shortage of responses, and many of which are emphatic.  These sales people are so sure of what to do and what not to do. And many times these actions contradict one another.  For example, some say, “I never leave voicemails because everyone deletes them.” The next person says, “I leave voicemails all of the time.”  At least one of these statements has to be wrong.

All of this got me to thinking.  If so many sales people struggle with prospecting, why are they so definitive in their opinions?

When you peel it all back, most of these opinions are based entirely on anecdotal evidence.   Which means all this bravado and confidence is based on nothing short of guesswork.

Now extrapolate this concept from the individual to your entire sales organization. Now your 5, 10, 20, 50 sales people are all guessing their way through the process.   This approach of trial and (mostly) error is one of the leading reasons why sales people fail to uncover enough sales opportunities.

How can you and your sales team get your arms around this problem and turn guesswork into a proven process for prospecting that will actually work? Here are three steps.

  1. Recognize the problem – It’s OK to admit you don’t have all the right answers. Ask yourself tough questions and be honest with the answers.  If (for example) you say your team always leaves voicemails, ask yourself if that theory is based in fact or assumption.
  2. Document consistently and measure – Make it easy for your team to document their activities in a consistent way.  Then you can collate the information and make objective decisions.
  3. Limit variables and test – A/B testing is essential.  Test everything from follow-up sequences, touch point combinations, email subject lines, constructs of voice messages, etc.  The RIGHT answer is there, you just have to find it.

How confident are you in your prospecting guesswork?

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