It is rare that salespeople default to prospecting, looking instead for other sales-related work. Sales leaders who worry about sales velocity and longer sales cycles should consider the contacts that no sales rep has ever touched. That contact may have been living in your CRM for a year or more, but the B2B sales process may have stalled.
There are two types of sales leaders. The first cares only about calls and emails. The second cares about pursuing their strategic targets and a balance of activities that ensure they achieve their sales goals through effective selling. Without fostering accountability for prospecting, your goals and sales objectives are at risk. Fostering accountability for prospecting is essential for empowering sales teams and driving revenue growth.
The Problem: Leaders Not Holding Teams Accountable for Prospecting
One reason people work in sales is that they enjoy the autonomy professional selling provides. You can improve your hiring by ensuring the salespeople you add to your sales team have a high level of self-discipline. Salespeople with little self-control will struggle to manage themselves, especially when it comes to prospecting. Sales leaders and sales managers must foster accountability for prospecting.
One reason sales leaders don’t create accountability for prospecting is that they believe the sales force knows what to do. I have seen senior salespeople stop prospecting, only to lose a large client that comprised half their income. Although the sales force is aware of the need to prospect, that’s not enough to ensure they engage in prospecting.
Other sales leaders don’t create accountability for cold outreach because they believe their team will believe they are micromanaging. As a sales manager, you have the prerogative to raise your standards and expect more from your B2B sales teams.
The negative consequences of not holding teams accountable for prospecting include:
- Not creating new opportunities: By the time you realize you don’t have the B2B sales pipeline you need, it’s too late to add more opportunities when you need them.
- Faith in your pipeline: Here’s an exercise to understand why you miss your goals: Remove every opportunity from your CRM if it hasn’t had a second meeting. You might want to have a grief counselor on hand.
- Inconsistent sales performance: Consistent prospecting creates consistent results. Inconsistent prospecting leads to inconsistent sales results.
- Missed revenue targets: You miss your revenue growth when you don’t close deals because you lack real opportunities.
- Decreased morale and motivation: Your team will not lose morale and motivation if they have to prospect. They will, however, be demoralized by failing, including failing their families and others who count on them to succeed in sales.
If you are a salesperson, learn how to hold yourself accountable for prospecting. The best practice for measuring prospecting success is to measure the number of real, qualified opportunities, not qualified leads.
Common Mistakes in Prospecting
There are a number of common mistakes to avoid in prospecting for sales. Here are some of the biggest:
- Spray-and-pray strategies: Too many sales managers mistakenly believe prospecting is a numbers game. It is actually a game of better strategies, better approaches, and better potential customers. Spray-and-pray is a terrible sales strategy to employ now.
- Not trading value: The pitch salespeople use to try to schedule a meeting offers nothing to the client other than time wasted sitting through another sales pitch. By trading value, your team will massively increase the number of first meetings. You can find this strategy in The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the 10 Commitments That Drive Sales. This approach works well with buyers and decision-makers.
- One-and-done prospecting: Salespeople who do not follow up consistently lose opportunities because they allow too much time to pass between communications.
- Failing to research and understand the prospect’s needs: By not doing the research to know who you are calling and the problems in their industry, it is difficult to book a meeting.
The way you correct these problems is by requiring your to teams prospect professionally.
Personalizing Your Prospecting Approach
Use personalized messaging that speaks directly to your prospect’s needs. Selling is competitive, and winners recognize that buyers need proof that the salesperson understands their problems and pain points. This effective selling approach to B2B customers creates the confidence to agree to a meeting.
Another important aspect of personalization is being able to meet clients in person, so work toward a face-to-face meeting. Let your competitors do virtual meetings while you show up in person. Many decision-makers and leaders want you to come visit them in person. They will welcome your meeting if it is "in real life.”
Technology to Streamline Prospecting Efforts
You can use marketing automation tools for lead scoring and nurturing to make it easier to ensure you are calling on qualified leads. Nurturing is much better than following up alone, as nurturing allows you to provide insights that capture attention.
There are many sales enablement platforms for creating and sharing personalized content. There is also a new type of sales collateral that is personalized and creates value for your prospective clients. It’s fine to use these tools, but make no mistake that, while efficiency is important, your effectiveness is how you win deals.
Foster Accountability for Prospecting
Sales leaders need to take accountability for prospecting and empower their sales teams to generate net new revenue. Any failure here will find you with too few real opportunities, inconsistent performance, and missed targets.
Your team also needs to personalize their cold outreach, making it feel as if the salesperson is directly speaking to their contact. By implementing these sales strategies, you help your team achieve their sales goals.