How to Increase Your Prospecting Effort and Where to Start

The Gist:

  • The best strategy to improve low results from a lack of activity is more activity.
  • Activity itself is less important than effective activity.
  • Before you increase your activity, do the work to make certain it is effective activity.

If you have an activity problem, nothing can replace “more activity” as a solution. When you recognize that you need to do more in order to reach your goals, you might decide to increase your effort and your activity tenfold, and to stop taking half-measures that are inadequate to reaching your objectives. That may be the right call, but before you scale up your intensity, take a couple steps to make sure you’re ramping up the right kind of activity.

Ineffective Activity

 Ineffective Activity

Over the last few weeks, I have received a good number of cold calls. I take those calls as a professional courtesy: as someone who encourages others to make these types of calls, it would be disingenuous for me not to take them. There are two reasons that these calls rarely last more than a few minutes. First, often the salesperson isn’t selling something that my business needs, even if they mistakenly believe that everyone needs what they sell. Second, the calls themselves are generally not very good, mostly because the approach isn’t effective.

The idea that more activity is all that is necessary to increase your sales and grow revenue dismisses other important variables that would improve your results. Doing more work isn’t the same as doing the right work or doing better work, two variables you must consider before exerting 10x as much effort and wasting time you can never recover. There is never a reason to scale up ineffective activities.

Targets Are Better Than Leads

There is an old story about a salesperson who was interviewing with a sales manager for a new position. The salesperson was worried about not having enough leads, so he worked up the courage to ask if the company would provide enough leads to let him succeed in the role. The manager promised to give him more leads than he could ever work. Sure enough, when the newly hired salesperson asked his manager for this fountain of opportunity, the manager dropped a phone book on his desk.

Phone books are rare these days, but the “more is better than better” approach is alive and well on LinkedIn. Dozens if not hundreds of salespeople will barrage you with InMail, offering to sell you something that is not even remotely related to your interests or goals. What’s worse is that some of the people who pitch you actually sell the same thing you sell.

Targets are better than leads. It’s worth postponing any increase in activity long enough to ensure that you produce the outcomes you need to improve your results. You can use your newfound hustle to build a territory and account plan that allows you to define your targets, to identify the contacts you will pursue and the best way to reach them, to work out a theory as to why each client should change, and to develop a value proposition that will convince your contacts to carve out half an hour to meet with you.

IneffectiveEffectiveness before scale activity

Effectiveness Before Scale

Before you scale up your effort, you want to ensure that your effort is effective. You don’t want to waste both time and energy on something that doesn’t produce the outcome you need. Time is something you can never recover, and it’s worth using some of your time to work on your effectiveness before you redouble your efforts. Sometimes the best thing to do is to go slow now so you can go fast later, especially when you are developing an approach that you want to scale up.

This approach has helped a lot of salespeople improve their prospecting results, and it may very well help you acquire more meetings if you are a consultative B2B salesperson.

Success in prospecting requires experimentation. You need to try different approaches to discover what seems to work, and it can take some time to dial in something that you can execute effectively. It will also take time to figure out what value you need to promise your prospective clients to motivate them to give you their time. You can make up the two or three weeks you spend working on your approach, increasing your amount of smart, effective activity, by securing more meetings and far better targets.

More work and faster results

More Work and Faster Results

More activity against non-targets is not a good way to spend your time in B2B sales. As Stephen Covey put it, “if the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.”

Effectiveness takes time, effort, and a persistent, patient pursuit. One of the reasons salespeople struggle to book the meetings they need is that they don’t vary their approach to discover what might produce better results, choosing instead to use an approach they find comfortable. It is impossible to watch the sun rise when you are facing west, no matter how early you get up or how much your sunglasses cost. When your strategy is wrong, you need to change the strategy—and you may need to get better information about how your corner of the sales world works.

Before you multiply your effort at prospecting, make sure every increase in activity is appropriately targeted to the companies and people who benefit from what you sell, and that you have a proven, effective approach that will yield the opportunities you need.

Do Good Work:

  • If you have a problem that can be solved by more activity, increase your activity.
  • Analyze what activity is necessary and determine what you need to do to be highly effective.
  • Once you have an effective approach to producing results, scale up your activity and your effort.

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