Positioning vs. Prospecting

If prospects find you first, they are more likely to buy from you than if you find them.

Has your medical doctor ever called you in an attempt to set up an appointment? Medical doctors do not solicit new patients. They don't seek you out. You seek them out. And when you do get to see him or her, they tell you what medicine you need to take and you take it. If he says you need to have x-rays, blood work, an MRI or surgery, you pretty much take it at face value and do what he says. And on top of all that, you pay a pretty preposterous sum of money for that advice and medical care no matter how inconvenient or painful it may be.

I often talk about becoming a doctor of selling. This means positioning yourself in the eyes of the prospect to the same degree that doctors position themselves in the eyes of their patients. It should be your goal to get your prospects to respect you as much as patients respect their medical doctor. Your prospects don't know their doctor any better than they know you in most cases. Yet, they are willing to accept the doctor's diagnosis of problems at face value even though many times that diagnosis is incorrect. Truth is, many times you are more knowledgeable about your problems than your doctor. Yet patients will accept the doctor’s diagnosis and advice and act on it with no questions asked.

So what's the difference?

Positioning versus prospecting

The difference is positioning. The doctor is perceived to be an expert, so you seek his counsel and you believe what he has to say. The truth is the medical industry is all about marketing and positioning. Most business people don’t get this and just imitate their competitors, and everyone just gets dumber and dumber every year.

In the world of sales, most salespeople are still doing things the exact same way they did 20, 30 or even 50 years ago even though it is no longer effective. Not only do these old-school behaviors prove to be ineffective, they are enormous time wasters.

The myth of motivation

Early in my sales career, when I was struggling mightily, I thought lack of motivation was my problem. I thought if I could finally get motivated to make those calls that that was the key to success. I read books, listened to tapes, wrote affirmations on index cards, and practiced the power of positive thinking. I smiled a lot, shook a lot of hands, tried to practice bonding and rapport by talking about things I saw in their office. I chatted with them about fishing or golf or their grandkids or the award plaques they had on their desk. I looked in the mirror every morning and repeated “I am a winner, I am a winner.

In the 80s and 90s, I was a serious student of sales motivation and was doing what most experts said I should do. I honestly felt that if I just tried hard enough and practiced motivation, and was nice enough to people, and said all the right things, and had the right attitude that success would sweep me off my feet and fill my bank account with cash. Only problem with all of this is that it does not work.

I was very good at practicing the art of motivation, but every month I was falling further and further behind financially. It wasn't working. I was frustrated and thought I was the problem.

Motivation was not the real problem

After years of banging doors and making over 10,000 outbound cold calls, I finally realized that I was very motivated, but I was doing the wrong things. What I realized was that my process was flawed and instead of me chasing prospects, I should somehow get them to seek me out. This insight led me to realize that I didn't have a motivation problem, but that I had a marketing problem. I knew how to sell. And I could get money from a rock, but what I lacked was a systematic process that constantly brought me a fresh supply of qualified leads.

It was at this time that I discovered a concept called “Magnetic Marketing” that advocated attracting clients to you instead of pursuing clients. The proponent of magnetic marketing stated that if you had a steady stream of qualified prospects to talk to, you wouldn't have a motivation problem.

Armed with this concept, I began to go to work on developing marketing strategies that would position me as the expert authority in my field. I would be lying if I told you all of my sales problems vanished instantly when I did this. But it was the beginning of a completely new way of doing business. It radically and permanently changed my perspective on the entire problem and finally pointed me in the right direction.

I eventually realized this whole motivation thing was a myth.


Because I was already motivated to begin with. The problem was, I was trying to dig a basement with a shovel when what I needed was a bulldozer

No matter how motivated you are, the laziest guy in the world can still move more dirt with a bulldozer then you can with a shovel!

Upon this revelation, I went on a mission to study the most brilliant minds in marketing today, and what I've discovered was that with good marketing systems, you can have people lined up to have you help them solve their problems. You can in effect be- come a welcomed guest instead of an unwelcomed pest.

My problem was that I had been spending too much time prospecting and didn't have time to sell.

My big discovery

Salespeople should not spend time prospecting any more than absolutely necessary. Their time is too valuable and expensive. They should only spend time with qualified, interested prospects, discussing solutions to their problems. A good marketing system, which helps customers find a salesman, can do this for far less money than paying the salesman to find customers. Most companies and salespeople miss this crucial point.

Once an effective marketing system is in place, salespeople can spend twice as much time in front of interested prospects which allows them to double their sales.

There is an additional hidden benefit to this: when the customer finds you, instead of you finding the customer, his perception of you is different. He perceives you as a consultant, not a peddler. Customers don't respect peddlers as reliable information sources. By cold calling and soliciting prospects, I was improperly positioning myself as a peddler and could never achieve what I was trying to accomplish.

Over time, I have developed a powerful arsenal of tools that causes people to seek me out as a valuable resource instead of an unwanted pest.