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Cramming Your Prospecting Work is Spinning Your Wheels

Anthony Iannarino
Post by Anthony Iannarino
October 3, 2010

alt text of car spinning it's wheels

A pint of sweat saves a gallon of blood.
–General George S. Patton

I don’t believe that activity by itself is enough to solve all sales problems, although it is damn effective when low activity it the primary problem. One of the primary problems with low activity is that your efforts in sales don’t line up neatly with the results.

A salesperson with low sales activity, especially when the low activity starts to become too painful, often tries to cram to make up for lost time. Instead of getting results, they end up spinning their wheels.

You Cannot Cram Your Way to Success . . . Especially in Prospecting

When you fall behind, you want to make up for your lack of prospecting activity by cramming. If prospecting activity is good (and it is!), then a massive amount of prospecting must be even more effective, right? Wrong.

The analogy is much like pushing the gas pedal all the way to the floorboard all at once; the wheels spin too fast to gain any real traction, and you start moving forward slower than you wish. Eventually your tires grab and you hit a high speed, but then you have to let up off the pedal, and you really haven’t gone anywhere. You can’t sustain it.

The better approach is to maintain a speed and an effort that you sustain over the long, long race, extending your effort over the whole course of your sales year and building prospecting into your daily activities.

The Trouble With Cramming

The relationships that you need in order to develop and win your dream client into opportunities take time to build.

Maybe you will get lucky and you will happen to make a call at the moment of your dream client’s greatest pain. But more than likely, they have never heard of you, you haven’t invested any time in nurturing the relationships in the past, and when they have their greatest moment of pain, they call someone they know and who has been valuable to them—even before they were submitting an invoice.

The fact that you let yourself get behind on prospecting doesn’t mean that your dream clients have a greater need for you.

The second problem with trying to cram your way to success in prospecting is that when you get desperate, you work way down from dream clients to prospects, sometimes making it all the way down to what would be your nightmare clients. You lower your standard, you throw out your company’s idea of what a target means and what qualified means, and you open up all kinds of future problems.

The Difference Between Desperation and Discipline

Desperation is a horrible motivator. It arrives too late and the problems are much more difficult to overcome.

The internal motivation that is self-discipline is the only vaccination against long-term, complex prospecting and pipeline problems.


    1. What are the differences between cramming for results and putting forth a real, sustained effort over time?
    1. What prevents you from devoting the time and focus that you need to be truly effective at prospecting? What prevents you from achieving the prospecting results that will build a healthy pipeline? What can you do today to ensure that your prospecting efforts get the time and attention necessary?
    1. Why is it that sporadic prospecting efforts have so little impact on your dream clients and produce such poor results? How consistent do you have to be to be worth your dream client’s time and attention?
  1. Why must you avoid lowering your standards and prospecting to companies that don’t fit your target or qualifying guidelines? What happens later when you win prospects that don’t fit your company’s strategy?

For more on increasing your sales effectiveness, subscribe to the RSS Feed for The Sales Blog and my Email Newsletter. Follow me on Twitter, connect to me on LinkedIn, or friend me on Facebook. If I can help you or your sales organization, check out my coaching and consulting firm, B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, email me, or call me at (614) 212-4729.

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Post by Anthony Iannarino on October 3, 2010
Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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