As a sales coach, you can imagine the number of times I have heard a VP of Sales say to me “We need help closing more business.” Or a Director of Sales asks, “Can you help us with our closing?” It’s common.
In the words of Arnold in Kindergarten Cop, IT’S NOT A CLOSING PROBLEM!”
After spending a few minutes with these people it’s clear that they don’t have a closing problem – not at all. They have an opening problem. They don’t have enough qualified opportunities. Not enough “logs in the fire.” When the pipeline is skinny every opportunity is critical. When every opportunity is critical (and they don’t hit) it looks like a closing problem. Sound familiar?
This problem can be factored down to the most basic of all basic selling activities – prospecting. A lot of salespeople think this is a dirty word. Let’s face it … who wants to go out and talk to strangers that don’t want to talk to them about something they probably don’t want to buy? Well, that’s what prospecting is. That’s what professional selling is. And it’s not for everyone. If you have a few salespeople on your team that consistently fall short of their numbers ask yourself this question, “How often do they prospect?” How often do they go out of their way to talk to someone that doesn’t want to talk to them?” Probably never (or very rarely).
The real sales pros get it. They do the prospecting activity because they realize what happens if they don’t. They realize that they are in the prospecting business (and the minute they fail to believe this is the minute they go out of business) – happens all the time. These pros are in the same industry as you, selling the same products and services, to the same client base, for very comparable dollars, in the same economy. They are eating your lunch.
So what’s the difference? You know the difference. The pros get in the game. They hunt for business. They aren’t afraid of rejection. Do they like it? Doesn’t matter – they do it.
Less effective salespeople find other things to do besides prospecting. They do paperwork. Work on quotes and proposals. Walk around the office and bother other people. Some even go to Office Max and buy highlighters, folders and paper clips – anything to avoid talking to strangers – anything to avoid prospecting. They “get ready to get ready”. The truth is they will never be ready. They are not cut out for sales.Got any of these folks? Start holding them accountable to one of the only activities in sales that they control – their own prospecting activity. No excuses.
Got any of these folks? Start holding them accountable to one of the only activities in sales that they control – their own prospecting activity. No excuses.