"My sellers just don’t prospect anymore, they only rely on marketing for leads” is a phrase that unfortunately, is repeated by far too many sales leaders today. It’s fantastic when inbound leads are enough to fill the sales funnel but that’s not always the norm. Sales leaders know that their teams still need to conduct some outbound prospecting to have a healthy amount of qualified opportunities in the funnel.
When sellers hear that they need to do more outbound prospecting, they react in a way that is similar to getting a root canal and will do everything they can to avoid it. The dread and hesitation that sellers hold towards prospecting doesn’t have to exist.
Often times all it takes for sellers to embrace outbound prospecting is a little encouragement and perspective from their manager.
One of the excuses we hear over and over again from sellers who are hesitant to do outbound prospecting is that it doesn’t work. Outbound prospecting is not dead and does work if done correctly. All too often sellers are taught inefficient methods in reaching new prospects or give up after only a few attempts.
Take the time to evaluate your team’s activities, ratios, and results. Shadow their prospecting calls and outreach process to understand the good, the bad and the ugly of your teams prospecting habits. After gaining a clearer picture, you can now determine if the team needs skills training, a new process or additional sales coaching to help them be successful outbound prospectors.
With the correct skills, process, product knowledge and effort in place, your team will see success and be more encouraged to prospect.
Another way to encourage your sellers to embrace outbound prospecting is to communicate the long term value of that skill. As a seller, having the skills to pick up the phone and speak with a prospect who does not know you or your company is a skill that can be utilized throughout your career. In the short term, it can also be a catalyst that fills the funnel with more qualified opportunities. That will help you exceed quota and earn a faster promotion.
With the market quickly becoming saturated and buyers constantly being bombarded by sales and marketing messages, the best way sellers can now differentiate themselves is through their selling skills. Directly calling your prospects is still one of the most effective ways to break through vendor noise.
Sellers sitting idle and waiting for an inbound lead from marketing, hoping that this lead will be large enough, fits the right customer profile, and is ready to make a purchase in a timely manner is not an effective strategy to hitting quota. It's a pipe dream.
Instead of solely relying on inbound leads, sellers who incorporate outbound prospecting into their activities often hit their quota faster than sellers who do not. If a seller is proactive with their prospecting, there will also be more predictability with their job. The proactive prospector can treat inbound leads as a bonus rather than relying on them to hit quota.
Giving your sellers the right prospecting skills and showing them the benefits of mastering that skill should do a lot to improve your team’s prospecting efforts. Sometimes, you still need an extra push. In this case, use gamification to encourage your entire sales team to do more outbound prospecting activities.
Gamification has been proven to improve performance. With outbound prospecting, encourage your sellers to do more by making the different elements of it a game. For example, make a competition out of who can get the most direct lines in a day or have the most conversations through outbound cold calling. Meetings may be a good metric to compete on but gamification works better if you keep the focus on the different activities that achieve the results you want.
Getting your sellers – whether green or sales veterans – to embrace outbound prospecting may seem like an arduous task. However, with the right skills, a little encouragement and gamification, your sellers will be able to exceed their quotas and improve their sales skill set.