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The Most Difficult Part of Prospecting

You probably don’t do enough prospecting. It’s likely that you are well aware of that fact. If you spent more time prospecting, more time cold calling and opening relationships, you would have more opportunities. You’d even have a stronger pipeline. But your resistance to prospecting keeps you from doing as well as you might.

Knowing all of this is true probably still isn’t enough for you to stop procrastinating. You may not even be motivated by the fact that your fiercest competitors are prospecting, and they are calling your existing client and dream clients (just ask them). There is a simple solution that makes prospecting easier.

Just start making calls.

If you run or do any aerobic exercise, you know how uncomfortable it is to get started. I say that the hardest climbing you ever do on a bicycle is actually climbing onto the bike to get started. It takes me 8 or 9 miles before my body starts to acclimate to the exercise. My friends that run tell me that it takes them 3 or 4 miles to finally get their body to adjust. That metaphor works for prospecting. It’s just like that.

The most difficult call you make is the first call. It has nothing to do with who you call or the outcome of that call. It has everything to do with overcoming the internal resistance to starting. Each call after the first gets easier. You adjust. You find your rhythm. It gets easier.

This is why it’s important to prospect early in the day. That’s when you have the mental focus and the greatest capacity to overcome your resistance. As the day goes on, you will find other work to take the place of prospecting, and the world will start making demands of you.


Do you find it true that once you get started doing something difficult it gets easier?

When do you have the most resolve to overcome your internal resistance to prospecting and cold calling?

How do you overcome your internal resistance? What do you tell yourself about why you must prospect and the price for failing to do so?

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  • Gail Gardner

    Prospecting is not for everyone. I recently figured out WHY I love marketing and am lousy at selling. I’ve known for a long time they are two VERY different things. To be good at sales you need a REALLY thick skin and a high tolerance for difficult people because even if you are making warm calls and the person is expecting your call they can still treat you horribly. I just don’t need that. 

    I finally decided to phone a few people to follow up and the first guy I called tore me a new one for really no reason. He was incredibly rude and combative and I sure hope for his sake (and theirs) that he treats his customers a lot better than he treated me. 

    One thing I can say with confidence is that you HAVE to have relationships with people or you won’t close many deals or sell much of anything.  Thankfully, we now have LinkedIn and can use the tips in Andy Lopata’s book to learn to get recommended so people like me who just aren’t cut out for that kind of abuse and don’t really have a desire to deal with people who don’t understand us have an alternative – being recommended by people who DO understand what we bring to the table. 

    I highly recommend reading Andy’s book “Recommended” because I’ve learned a lot from it about why what I was doing wasn’t working – and what I believe will. (Too early to confirm that just yet.) 

  • Dennis H

    Talk about a well timed post…

    I worked for a large, national IT reseller for close to 5 years.  Over that time, I sucessfully prospected and grew my territory enough that I was able to transition from a hunter to a farmer role.  I decided to leave that company for a competitor who agressively recruited me and offered me a hunter postition (I missed doing it)  I can’t believe how much trouble I’ve been having…

    This article hit the nail right on the head.  I’ve been spending too much time surfing Linkedin and Jigsaw instead of picking up the phone and dialing.

    Thanks for the kick in the pants!

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      You’re welcome! Glad to have you back among the hunters!

  • The Responsive Edge™

    Great analysis of the first of two types of seller resistance.  

    • S. Anthony Iannarino


  • Bmurray

    You’re right – it’s all about getting started.  The other question I challenge people to ask is, “On a scale of zero to death (meaning you were literally killed on the call), rate the single worst thing that ever happened to you on a prospecting call.”  Usually it’s something like  – the prospect hung up or got angry.  On the scale, that is rarely ever higher that a 1 or 2.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      I love that! Truth is, nothing bad really happens, lots good does!

    • Gail Gardner

       Obviously Bmurray and S. Anthony Iannarino both have very thick skins if “nothing bad really happens” that is rarely ever “higher than a 1 or 2″.  For me, that recent call was at least a 6 – and it wasn’t even a cold call! Sales is definitely best left to natural born sales people who don’t even blink in the face of horrendously rude or even verbally abusive people.

      • S. Anthony Iannarino

        We’re back to “too much meaning.” What does it mean if someone is rude or abusive? What does it mean about you? I would suggest that it means nothing when it comes to you, and it says a lot more about them. Or maybe, they are rude and abusive because they don’t have the internal resources to handle what life is handing them? 

      • Gail Gardner

        I’m not sure what “too much meaning” is – but rude is rude and abusive is abusive – and volunteering to speak with people like that is not something I choose to do. I agree that it reflects badly on them, and if I did nothing to provoke them it is not about me. I just wonder what makes them believe that is appropriate or does not have negative consequences for their businesses.

        I suspect that people who love cold calling are able to just ignore that kind of thing – and that is what makes them good at sales – and why most people hate selling!

        It cured me. One call like that and there is no one I really want to talk to that badly. I do not put up with people like that in my life – by choice – so I went back to doing what I do best: writing. Responding to rude comments does not bother me nearly as much as trying to be polite in the face of obnoxiousness on the phone. In person would be even worse.

        No one has to read what I have to offer and only a few are foolish enough to complain when they can simply choose not to read.

      • S. Anthony Iannarino

        Your comment illustrates exactly what I mean when I say “too much meaning,” Gail. 

        You might reevaluate your engagement with this one rude individual and see if you really believe that it means that you should believe that all future engagements will have the same result. 

        Here’s an analogy:  

        I once had a drunk driver crash into the back of my car while I was at a red light. It was a horrible experience. But it didn’t prevent me from ever driving again. To discontinue driving would have been investing that one unfortunate event with far too much meaning, wouldn’t it? 


      • Daniel Maldonado

        I don’t love cold calling. I do it as a requirement for me to grow my business. It’s as much part of my work as taking care of customer issues. 

  • Daniel Maldonado


    This is very true. I find that some days I am a fearless caller because I started and kept on going, not caring rejection. On those days, I sometimes go out and knock on doors just because I feel so good. Then, other days, I stare at my computer screen looking at a customer to call, working my self up to it, and then never make it. Other things take place of prospecting and before you know it, I haven’t opened any new relationships. 

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