I never understood why sales people and sales leaders who have anaemic pipelines and matching sales results, think they solve their issues by focusing on everything but. They need to stop symptoms, and work on curing the cause.
Success in prospecting starts with fully committing to it, and then actually executing.
Working with reps across many industries, one commonality is the lack of real commitment to prospecting success. When I ask sales people what their high value activities are, prospecting usually makes the list. I am convinced that it is there because sales people feel they have to put it there, not because they believe it or do it. How do I know?
First is the answer to my next question to them: “Over the course of your sales cycle, not daily but over the cycle, what percentage of your time is committed to prospecting?” I get answers ranging from 10% to 50%. Removing the extremes, the number usually settles around 25% – 30%. They always glance at their manager as they give me the number, I am never sure if it is for approval, or fear of being called out. Then, when you highlight the fact that 25% of a 50-hour work week is 12.5 hours a week, or 2.5 hour per day.
“No, no, no, that’s too much, I need to do other things, important things.” And there is your first clue, they have no idea because not only do they not do it, and they have no idea what their metrics are, and therefore what they need to do to succeed. And why should they when all the hip pundits have told them that sales is not a numbers game. Instead, it’s a strange version of the game of hide and seek, where in this case you are working to be “found”, and starve if you’re not found. Metrics are all about numbers, much like accountability. In the end, they do commit to a time they need to not just set aside for prospecting, but actually doing it.
Second, when I go back for reinforcement sessions, you find they’ve done bubkes. Nothing at all, not an hour, not what their metrics and quota demanded, they have done no prospecting.
When I ask how much prospecting they have done since last week, I get a sheepish smile, followed by “Not As Much As You’d Like To”. Well why not, “I wanted to, but I had some important things to attend to.” Like what?
What can be more important for a rep than to ensure they have the requisite opportunities in their pipeline? Sometimes there are other important things, but if they allocated time to all their high value activities, not just the ones they like, they could have avoided the conflict, and got both done. But usually it is some BS, the one they hope will slow me down is that they were working on a deal (does not dawn on them that the deal was one day a prospect). But when one digs deeper, it tunes out the deal they were working on has no next step, has been in their pipeline well past it’s “good through date”, but it has enough life in it to serve as an excuse when they should be executing.