How many of your salespeople are really order-takers?
Recently a Client requested sales personality assessment codes to assess sales candidates. In our conversation they shared that they had recently lost a long-term salesperson who left for "greener pastures". He didn't sound particularly upset so I pulled up the departed salesperson's assessment results to see what caliber of sales talent they were. The departing salesperson did them a favor.
I immediately said, "They didn't prospect much did they?"
"Ah. Nope. Sorry to see them go though. They sure knew a lot of people," replied the sales manager.
That is code talk for "They really didn't sell much."
I replied, "But they didn't prospect did they?"
"Not much at all."
If the salesperson wasn't prospecting by adding value to existing Customers and seeking new ones then they were order-taking. Order-takers are sales posers. They look like a real salesperson from a distance. Real salespeople prospect.
Order-takers are very expensive because they soak up a salesperson's base compensation and they miss opportunities to add value to existing and new Customers.
All companies have a prospecting problem.
The question is how bad is your prospecting problem?
Prospecting is the purposeful endeavor of adding additional value to existing Customers as well as identifying and qualifying new ones. Both are equally important.
If I wanted to predict just how bad your sales prospecting was in your company, I would assess your sales management and salespeople.
Salespeople prospect to the level their sales manager holds them accountable AND to the extent they are "wired" for prospecting.
If you are saying to yourself, "My company doesn't have a prospecting problem," then you are deluding yourself - or you have a dedicated inside sales team with metrics being actively monitored with private equity or VC ownership.
There is ALWAYS room for improvement. Come to think of it, I have never walked out of a company saying to myself, "This company has prospecting fully-maximized."
Chances are you have a number of your salespeople who are, in fact, overpaid order-takers.
A failure to prospect is everyone's problem.
A failure to prospect is not just a problem for the sales team.
Nothing happens in business until something gets sold (Thomas J. Watson).
Every single team member is impacted by the collective unwillingness or inability to prospect. Every single assistant, truck driver, welder, customer support team member, and accountant is impacted by how much or how little your sales team prospects.
Every single team member should be asking sales, "How is your prospecting? You aren't order-taking are you?"
It is their business.
Seven steps to hard code prospecting into your sales program.
Let's be honest. You know your sales team should be prospecting more. You just haven't done anything about it. It's easy to allow prospecting to go by the wayside when things are good. You tell yourself stories like, "My sales team works hard," and/or you listen to your salespeople telling you that they work so hard that they don't have time for prospecting.
You and I know that there is more to be done with prospecting.
Get motivated. Ask yourself, "What will my legacy be?" Unless you have prospecting maximized, your future, your income, your business, and your legacy are diminished.
Following are the recommended six steps to improve prospecting in your sales team.
- Dollarize the cost of the problem. Until you actually put a number to what the lack of prospecting is costing you, you will do little or nothing to fix the problem.
- Hire the kind of sales managers who expect their salespeople to prospect. Use a valid sales personality test to ensure you really do hire the right sales manager.
- Hire the kind of salespeople who aren't afraid to prospect. Use a valid sales personality test to ensure you really do hire salespeople who will prospect.
- Establish prospecting criteria, goals, and standards.
- Make prospecting transparent. Scorecard prospecting and share it with everyone throughout the company.
- Expect salespeople to meet prospecting goals.
- Remove salespeople who will not prospect.
Prospecting isn't brain surgery. You just need to decide to make prospecting the priority it must be.
Jeb Blount shared in his must read book, Fanatical Prospecting, "The brutal fact is the number one reason for failure in sales is an empty pipe, and, the root cause of an empty pipeline is the failure to prospect."
If you keep hiring salespeople who are unable or unwilling to prospect then prospecting will not occur.
Make this post your wake up call.