Is Your Prospecting Plan to Actively Wait for The Phone to Ring?
In the past few months, I have been asked by a few sales managers to provide them with “the recipe for effective prospecting” to assist their teams. The first question I asked in response was:
How are your sales reps prospecting today?
Let’s assume that you have been a sales manager for the past three years and your sales reps have had to fill the funnel by gathering new leads. Why do you need a recipe now? The answer is often mumbled because, in many cases, the sales manager has never required the team to prospect and has not made individuals accountable for it. Too often, it is assumed the experienced reps know how to do it and it wasn’t until after sales training they discovered it wasn’t really happening at all.
The power of your CRM. When we talk about effective prospecting, your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform is a critical tool that enables the sales manager to inspect activity up front - not when the deal doesn’t close but well before then.
These leading indicators are the activity barometers required to see if the sales reps are, in fact, filling the sales funnel. Here are some key questions to ask as you inspect the activity:
- Did your rep get any new meetings or contacts this week, month, etc.?
- Did the sales rep open a new opportunity to manage and did he/she make 5 attempts to prospect at power?
These leading indicators begin to tell us if we have truly done the tough job of sales prospecting and how effectively we are accomplishing this task.
So, the recipe! It’s actually pretty simple if you want to have an immediate impact on your business.
- Schedule team prospecting time – if it is on the calendar, it will happen and misery loves company.
- Don’t let anything interrupt the team prospecting time. You may find that sales reps “conveniently” discover they have other meetings and will skip the scheduled time. Make it clear that prospecting is a priority and the only acceptable reason to miss it is if you are bringing back a PO from another meeting.
- Use the description field in the task section of your CRM to inspect research and planning.
- Set a deadline for 24 hours prior to the prospecting session to have the reps build their phone calling messages/content and input it into the CRM.
- Pull a report of open tasks for the prospecting day to see who is prepared and who needs some coaching.
- Schedule a web session during the calling time and provide all sales team members with access in order to show the names, dials, connects (voicemail and live), and responses; this ensures that everyone knows who is leading the pack and encourages competition.
- Have each rep pull their list of people, phone numbers and researched call scripts so they are not wasting time in the CRM during the prospecting session; they should make notes and follow ups to update the CRM later.
- Turn the oven up to 350 to add just a little heat and make it a contest where the top person gets rewarded; let everyone else see where they fall and who’s at the bottom of the pile. Everyone needs to smile and dial!
In 90 to 120 minutes they will be making connections and getting responses.
Make no mistake about it - this is not an easy task. It requires up-front preparation, a focus on gathering content and taking the time to make calls. It’s time consuming and it’s tough. But in my experience, we make a lot of excuses as to why prospecting can be done another time; unfortunately, it will never become a priority until we find that we can’t make our numbers in the quarter and by then it’s too late.
As sales professionals, we can’t make any excuses for not prospecting today, this week or this month. Great prospecting activity and discipline mean a stronger pipeline and additional revenue so go out and get it!