Understanding the Biggest Problem in Sales

Why Don’t Sales People Prospect Enough?

Virtually every business owner or sales manager I have ever coached or consulted has listed lack of consistent prospecting by their sales organization as one of the most damaging issues facing their company. This pervasive issue has a long term, crippling financial impact on both companies and their sales people.

While few managers would disagree that this is a major problem, most of them have little understanding of why this is a problem or how to solve it.

Why don’t salespeople consistently prospect?

Fear of rejection. Most prospecting behaviors produce a different result than the positive response sales people were hoping or expecting to get? This experience is internalized by the salesperson as some kind of personal failure. This internalization by the sales person makes no sense and only occurs because the sales person has confused external validation by the buyer with personal worth.

Solution: Help your sales person psychologically reframe their expectation of prospecting and instead of being the rejectee teach them to become the rejector.

Lack of organization and planning. Most sales people, because of their extroverted personalities, do not have natural organizational and self management skills. They tend to “cock and fire” instead of taking time to develop plans, organize, schedule and execute. The result of their scattered approach is that they waste many hours which could be used to prospect for new business.

Solution: Teach and require all of your sales people to submit written plans and schedules of their activities each week.

Not held accountable by management. Most sales mangers have not developed an effective process that holds their sales people accountable to do the necessary prospecting behaviors. They don’t know how or are too busy or disinterested to provide the proper coaching and supervision needed by their sales people.

Solution: Implement a sales management process that teaches and requires sales managers to plan and schedule one on one coaching each week with each sales person.

Lack of knowledge or lack of skill. Most companies don’t offer proper training or coaching on the importance of prospecting, how to develop a prospecting plan, improving personal effectiveness, creative visioning, developing a template of ideal clients, etc.

Solution: Develop a culture and philosophy of continuous, never ending improvement and invest the time and money to make that a reality.

And the biggest one of all is the absence of clearly defined, personally compelling goals. All the other things pale in comparison to this one.

The person who has a passionate goal will not be side tracked by rejection, will not need to be held accountable and will succeed in spite of a lack of organizational skills or knowledge. While all of these things will facilitate success they are not requirements for success.

A sales person who is passionate, focused and committed will go out and
beat on enough doors until they make it happen. More than anything else when you see call reluctance on a sales person’s part it’s because they’re not passionate about going to the next level or achieving the next goal. They have somehow gotten comfortable with the results that their current behavior is producing for them. And as long as they’re satisfied with the results of their current prospecting activities and can live off of the income that’s generated from those activities they won’t increase their prospecting behaviors.

Solution: Spend time helping your sales people answer this question.

Do you have a clearly defined, specific goal that requires you to make more money than you are currently making? Are you absolutely passionate about it? Are you committed enough to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal as long as it’s legal, moral and honest? How can I help you achieve that goal?

Until they can answer WHY the how is unimportant.