I used to work along side¬†a salesman who used the “spray and pray” approach to prospecting.
He would get lists of companies, call the receptionists, find his way in to the marketing departments, and follow-up with a fax that was customized to the extent of “Dear Ms. Whatever-Your-Name-Was.”¬† Company after company.
To this day, I admire the guy for his fearless approach to cold-calling.¬† On the other hand, he was “a mile wide and an inch deep.”¬† He was like the creep at the bar hitting on everybody, with the reputation to go with it.
I often wonder how this guy is doing today with the advent of the internet and email.¬† Maybe I should check my spam filter.
Prospecting should not be seen merely as “a numbers game.”¬† As Jill Konrath writes in “Selling to Big Companies”, don’t be too promiscuous in your prospecting.¬† You will be more successful — and motivated — if you focus on, say, a dozen companies in a given month.¬† Research them.¬† Try to find what types of challenges or opportunities they face in areas where you’re an expert or can provide value.¬† Prospecting is also “a quality game.”
Identify good targets.¬† Good = quality.¬† Maybe, quality targets are multi-national companies within 30 minutes of your home office.¬† Or maybe it’s a certain industry where you have deep expertise.¬† Or maybe… you get the point.¬† Be selective.
Sure, the more cold-calling you do, the more initial contacts you’ll make.¬† But will this turn in to a deep love affair. e.g…
… a client with ongoing business?¬† Or just a flat rejection?¬† A quick fling that sidetracks you from the meaningful things in life/business?
Sure, if¬†you’re early in a business start-up, or if¬†you’re opening¬†a new territory, you will have to dedicate more time to the earlier part of the selling cycle, and that includes prospecting.
Qualify your buyers not just in regards to¬†their potential¬†decision-making authority.¬† Qualify your targets with some hard-thought, disciplined criterion.¬† When you do break through to a prospect¬†and begin a conversation, it will be a meaningful one.
Perhaps, as salespeople, we should be “selectively promiscuous.”¬† Hungry, but focused.
Flirting, of sorts,¬†may be part of the sales cycle, but don’t spray and pray.¬† Your success rate will suffer.¬† And so will your motivation.
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