Prospecting is by far the best way of generating new business in sales. By targeting it and working in a smart way, prospecting becomes strategic, interesting, and enjoyable. When asked to do prospecting, however, most salespeople will balk and come up with something, anything, better to do. Here i look at some of the top prospecting excuses I’ve come across, and how I’d answer them. There really is no excuse not to prospect.
I’m too busy with my deals.
This is by far the most common excuse I’ve heard, and it’s also the easiest to answer. Working on deals is, of course, a good thing to do, and will lead to business. However, it shouldn’t be done to the exclusion of everything else. Time must be put aside for prospecting each day.
The question to ask yourself here is what you’ll be doing after the deals are closed. Your job isn’t to close one or two deals, it’s to bring in business continuously. You have to think further than your deals in order to accomplish this. You have to prepare for tomorrow, and that means prospecting.
The other question is: what happens if your deals don’t close? Your pipe can’t save you since you don’t have one. I’d recommend prospecting even in the middle of every deal-closing frenzy. You’ll make sure you’ve something to fall back on, and your commission will look nicely healthy as a result.
I don’t have time to prospect.
See above: if you don’t have time to prospect you will fail to hit your number next month/quarter/year because you won’t have a pipeline of fresh deals. Make time and reduce the fragility of your pipe.
I’ll take care of it tomorrow.
Even if you’re honest about this (which I doubt), what then? You’ll probably keep putting it off instead of building your pipe. You need to revise your planning to include at least an hour of prospecting every day. It’s how you’ll secure and your pipe and make it more robust against any future mishaps.
I was preparing / researching my accounts / planning my strategy.
That’s laudable, and you should be doing all of that. You don’t want to call randomly if you can call prepared. However, you shouldn’t be doing this during prospecting time. During prospecting time you should be prospecting, and nothing else (bio needs aside, of course).
I’d recommend setting aside 30 minutes or an hour near the end of the day. Make sure you’re outside of your best calling time, and use that time to prepare your prospecting for the next day. Make a note for yourself in whatever system you’re using, so you don’t have to go back and do all the research again. This way, you can simply power into your prospecting for the next day, and have everything at your fingertips.
Preparing your accounts is, as I said, a good thing. However, make sure you’re prospecting as well.
The prospecting list is bad / the patch is bad.
This one is basically a distraction. You’re responsible for finding clients, and the list is merely there to help you. If it’s bad, then research your patch, create a plan, and make a better one. But make sure you don’t do that during your prospecting time, and make sure you prospect regardless. Who knows, the list may not be as bad as you think it is.
With regard to the patch: I’ve seen many salespeople turn what was considered a “bad” patch around with a high degree of success. It’s not that the patch is bad, it’s that you’re not looking at it in the right way. You need to do your research, find a list of likely prospects, and go for it. The reason those salespeople were able to turn it around is because they didn’t make excuses. They jumped right in, got creative, and prospected as much as they could.
Marketing is giving us bad leads.
You’re a salesperson (this doesn’t apply to pure prospectors – if you’re one, you’re dependent on leads, and need to take measures to ensure they’re good), and as such you’re responsible for your patch. If marketing isn’t doing a good job, you’ll have to go out there and do it yourself.
Be proactive. I highly recommend running a patch analysis and making a decent plan. This plan should include proactive prospecting. After all, if marketing disappears tomorrow, you will still be required to create and close deals. Become as resilient and independent as possible.
I’m not feeling well.
My only answer to this is: go home and rest up. Come back when you’re feeling better, and get right back into it. I have a different view on this than most, so you might want to make sure it’s good with your manager first.
If you’re not feeling well every time you look at your prospecting materials, then you have a different issue. You might have one of those infamous prospecting mental blocks. If you think you do, then think about how you’ll feel if your deals pop. Terrible, right? Think of this as an inoculation against that kind of mental block, and get cracking.
I broke my leg and was in the hospital.
Okay, I can’t give you anything for that one. I hope you get well soon! Try to get prospecting as soon as you can.
As you’ve probably gathered, I think there are extremely few excuses for failing to prospect. Prospecting is absolutely vital to every salesperson’s job, and avoiding it for whatever reason is akin to shooting yourself in the foot. You may get momentary satisfaction (perhaps shooting yourself in the foot is a bad analogy…), but you’ll suffer in the long run. I’d recommend focusing on how you can improve your prospecting rather than forcing yourself to do random activities.
Outside of your prospecting time you could, for example, analyze your patch and understand which products sell best and to whom. Those are your low hanging fruit; prospecting into similar companies with the same product will have a much higher success rate. You could also divide by industry, gather success stories, and prospect there. Working smarter is the best way to enjoy your prospecting more (that sense of validation is great), and you’ll have a happier pipe as a result.
I hope you were at least mildly entertained, and that I was helpful to you in some way. As ever, I wish you all the best!
Do you agree with what I wrote here? Disagree? Did I miss something? Could I have done something better? Please let me know in the comments!