Our outside sales person is making a ton of cold calls from a directory list and attending networking events but isn’t gaining much traction. What other prospecting techniques should I suggest?

Answer

Selling is hard. Unfortunately, business owners often compound the challenge when they don’t take the time or make the effort to adequately train, manage, coach, and support their sales force from day one.

People buy from people who they like, trust, and with whom it is convenient to do business. That should be the cornerstone of building a sound marketing campaign and providing leadership and guidance for any sales rep. It is all about the genuine and personal relationship between the prospect and any person representing your shop. And those “seeds” of relationships take time to plant, nurture, and harvest.

John Carter, former NFL player and current CEO of Carter Brothers a successful electronic security services firm, recently addressed a conference in Atlantic City and shared these tips on building clientele:

  • Only go after prospects that fit your sweet spot, competitive edge, and unique value proposition. If you tailor your company to fit a particular client’s sweet spot, you may fail to meet the standards and expectations of every other potential customer.
  • Believe in partnerships. Build relationships and you never have to sell. In the movie industry, the crew shoots the film’s ending first. If you can build your unique, desired end result first, you can build anything.
  • Most people overthink. Choose which prospects you will pursue, wisely. Look for those who are willing or predisposed to buy from you. Don’t just chase people or cast a wide net, hoping to catch something. Do your homework before initiating an introduction.

Arm your sales team with screen shots of your website and other collateral material that clearly illustrates your company’s brand promise and unique selling proposition. Make sure there are testimonials and case-study evidence that back up your claims. Have your sales rep only offer that proof after it’s been determined the prospect is qualified and has an unmet need that can be satisfied by your shop's specialization.

If you insist that your sales rep knock on doors, make cold calls, and attend lead groups or networking events, double check that the targeted audience is predominately made up of ideal prospects. Otherwise, his or her efforts will only be a warmed-over version of the spray-and-pray method of prospecting, and in this age of sales in a lackluster economy, he or she will continue to be tired and frustrated with the predictable results. Good luck.

Your Personal Business Trainer