Busting the Sales Myth: “I Don’t Have Time To Prospect”
Do You Have 12 Minutes Today To Prospect?
By Tony Cole, President, Anthony Cole Training Group
If you are a salesperson or a sales manager, you have either said or heard, “I don’t have enough time to prospect.” This is a myth and the chart below illustrates that for you.
So, what does this chart convey? It shows that it doesn’t take much time to dial 100 times. Out of 100 calls, a sales person will generally connect with about 7 people – typically short conversations. Of those 7 calls, there may be 3 who agree to talk again and set up appointments. So, in the end, the sales person has invested a total of 1 hour to make those 100 dials. If there are 5 work days, that amounts to 12 minutes per day. So… do you have 12 minutes today to prospect?
But proving or disproving this myth isn’t the critical issue that I want to address. The critical issue is that you, as a sales leader, must do something when you have sales people that are not prospecting. This means that you must:
- Recruit sales people that don’t have the prospecting/hunting problem to begin with
- Stop allowing your sales people to use the “I don’t have time” excuse
- Create a disciplined approach to changing behavior in your sales people
Let’s address each of these actions individually.
- Hiring the right people: If hunting is critical to your sales team’s success, then you must make the sales skill set for hunting a priority when recruiting. We just completed an evaluation of 7 members of a sales team. Of the 7, only one had 65% of the required skills to be a hunter. What this means for you: You must screen for this critical skill set in your pre-hire assessment process. Make sure that you are looking at actual sales hunter skills vs. personality traits.
- Excuses: Starting today, when you hear an excuse for any outcome – but specifically about something getting in the way of prospecting – simply ask: “If I didn’t let you use that as an excuse for not prospecting, what would you do or have done differently?” (Stop, shut up and wait after you ask the question!)
- Discipline: Discipline is NOT always about being punitive, though it can be. Often when it comes to discipline in an organization, most people think PIP – performance improvement plan. But the PIP generally comes too late. Start early. Don’t wait until the situation becomes critical. Catch your sales people early when they first stop prospecting. When you see that they are just 10% off of their prospecting activity goals, implement a disciplined approach to change the behavior. (i.e. Every Thursday morning at 7:30 AM, I will be at your desk to make sure you are making your 20 required calls for the week.)
There are some other things you can do improve prospecting:
- Build an ideal week for the sales team and then help them manage themselves to be a “slave to the schedule.”
- Implement huddles to collect sales activity data. This works 100% of the time to increase sales activity.
- Make sure that each sales person has an individual success formula that they are committed to executing.
In the end, all sales people, or at least nearly all sales people, need help staying on track for prospecting. So, help them instead of beating them up.