Stop blaming the prospect for your poor prospecting skills

Posted on 08/23/2017 in misc

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There is type of post that seems to be particularly popular on LinkedIn. It's generally written by a salesperson or recruiter (same thing really), and the post is a rant about how rude some prospect or candidate was in rejecting their offer. The comments quickly fill up with other sales folks commiserating with the author. In the case of B2B salespeople, the complaint is usually that some executive told them to go away after they had called and/or emailed for the 3rd, 5th, or 12th time in a compressed time period.

Here is the thing. If somebody ignores 3 or 5 emails from you, they really aren't ignoring your email. They are telling you that they are not interested. If you ignore that message you get exactly what you deserve. I know we are all trained to keep calling because the average sale takes 12 touches, and executive's job is to be on the lookout for ways to improve the business, and your product or service is just what they need. However, those 12 touches are spread over 6 months or a year, not 3 weeks. And your product or service isn't that great. If it was, people would call you back and answer your emails.

Years ago I worked for a firm that had a rigid prospecting schedule. Call the prospect every 3rd business day for 9 days, and send an email with each call. That is 6 touches in about 2 weeks. There were 2 of us cranking out 30-50 calls a day around doing software demos. Everything was tracked in Salesforce, so we had good data. We made zero demo appointments from that 3rd round of calls and emails. If they were interested they responded to the first or second contact. Maybe they'd be interested in a year, and for key prospects we'd keep checking in every couple of months. That is fine, and that is where the 12 touches to make a sale statistic comes from. It's not the hounding of one prospect that leads to a sale, it's catching them at the right time. If somebody has ignored 3 or 4 calls from you, your odds of getting a win are actually better IF YOU TRY CALLING SOMEBODY ELSE.

Based on the incoming email pitches I get it's amazing that anybody ever replies to these people at all. It's rare that anybody has done even the minimal research to know who they hell the are calling or emailing. My favorite is direct competitors that call us, clueless that we are in the same business. It's really not that hard. Know who you are calling, and have a very specific reason why they should want to talk to you. "Learn more about your business" is not a valid reason for a meeting. We have the Internet for that. A BS generality like "improve ROI" is worthless too. You can't make more than about 30 to 50 researched and targeted calls a day if you are doing it all on your own. If you are making 200 calls a day you are not prospecting. You are spamming with the phone. Don't do that. If you don't know why people should talk to you, you need more training, or a better product to sell.

The cold, hard truth is that most products and services in the B2B space are derivative, and not particularity beneficial to the customer. Combine that with the fact that most salespeople suck at their job and it's not surprising that the vast majority of calls and emails are ignored.

It's not them, it's you.

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