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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