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There is an old fable by Aesop about the ant and the grasshopper. The ant is industrious, diligently working through the summer and preparing for winter. The grasshopper is playing, avoiding work. Aesop's lesson is that those who don't do the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, will suffer later.

Jim Rohn and Stephen Covey both spoke about the Rule of the Farm: You plant in spring and harvest in the fall. This is the nature of the universe, cause and effect. If there is no cause, there is no effect. To succeed in B2B sales, you need to proactively prospect.

The Unbreakable Nature of the Sales Cycle

The reason you must prospect proactively is because of the unbreakable nature of the sales cycle. When you don't prospect for some period, you fail to create the opportunities you need. The problem you create by failing to be proactive isn't solvable.

Let's assume you made no cold calls in January. You told yourself that decision-makers were getting back to work. You decided you would catch up on booking your meetings later. The lack of prospecting effort doesn't hurt you in the short term, but it destroys your long-term success. Let's also assume your sales cycle is just over 90 days. In April, you will not be closing deals because you didn't create the opportunities earlier, and your contact isn't able to make a purchasing decision without the time and conversations.

You might book a first meeting with a prospective client come April, but your prospective client will not rush through the stages of your sales process. They will likely take their time to consider their options and ask questions before they decide. The sales process takes time, and you should not expect your potential client to make a quick decision. Be patient and understand that they will need to review the details, research their options, and make an educated decision.

Your need for a deal is not something your contact will consider. If you project you are desperate for a deal, your chance of winning the client drops precipitously.


Patient, Professional, Proactive Prospecting

Prospecting is a low-yield activity, whether you are making phone calls or emailing. Your potential buyers are hard to reach, and because so many sales teams are using sales automation and email templates, it's hard to cut through the noise. It takes a large amount of activity to produce a couple of meetings.

At the same time, cold calling is a high-yield activity. Because securing a spot on your contact's calendar is the start of the sales process, success requires you proactively prospect. When you look at the percentage of revenue that a sales force generates, the largest contribution to that revenue will come from cold outreach.

You will find the work of booking first meetings is easier when you can use strategies with a positioning statement that identifies you as an expert and authority, proving you can help your decision-makers and their stakeholders improve their results.

  • Cold Outreach Sequences: The first way to improve your yield is to use cold outreach to position yourself as someone with industry knowledge and experience that would help the contact believe you might be a good fit. Your sequence should include sales scripts, cold calls, emails with insights, social media like LinkedIn, traditional mail, or any communication that proves you deserve a first meeting. Your response rates may be low, but eventually your target audience will accept a call.
  • The Trading-Value Rule: One way sales reps improve their ability to book a meeting with potential customers is by trading value in exchange for their time. Instead of talking about your company and your products and services, you provide an executive briefing that helps your contacts understand the forces that cause their poor results and what's working and what no longer works.
  • Proactive Pursuit: Those who need to displace a competitor can use the two strategies instead of qualifying leads with BANT or some other approach. The approach above compels change instead of waiting for the client, costing them both time and money. The reason you need to be proactive is to prevent the client from failing.
  • Time Blocking for the Win: You can't cram success in sales. You are far better off blocking out 90 minutes each day for prospecting than falling behind and feeling the regret of lost time. Remember that it isn't possible to catch up once you’ve fallen behind on prospecting. Ninety minutes each day is not only more productive, but also more sustainable than eight hours of cold outreach.

These four strategies can help sales reps book meetings with potential customers and improve their success.

Good and Bad Sales Math and Sales Success

There is good math and bad math in sales. Bad math comes from failing to recognize that your average sales cycle takes some days. When you don't account for the nature of decision-making, especially in an uncertain environment, your bad math will never add up to success.

Good sales math comes from knowing how many opportunities you need to create this month so you can net out your revenue goal 90 days from now. The simple sales math requires you to know your revenue goal, your average deal size, your win rate, and your average sales cycle. With these numbers, you can easily build a plan to hit your targets.

Selling has two parts. The first part is creating new opportunities. The second part is capturing opportunities. You can never capture an opportunity you didn't first create. A long time ago, I realized that opening is the new closing. In sales, you have a lot of autonomy, so much that some salespeople harm themselves because they lack the discipline to be proactive.

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Post by Anthony Iannarino on February 17, 2023

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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