December 16, 2020

Consistent Prospecting Boosts Connections, Pipelines, and Sales

By Henry Canaday, Editorial Contributor, Selling Power

If you want to stay healthy, you go to the gym regularly. You don’t try to bench press a record weight once in a while. Julie Thomas, president of ValueSelling, says it’s the same for prospecting.

“Some reps think it’s all about intensity – prospecting for the first month of a quarter or the first week of a month. But you’ve got to be consistent; it keeps the pipeline and flow of opportunities steady.”

That means holding to a regular cadence and frequency in engaging prospects over time.

There are several reasons reps fail to be consistent. They may give up on one contact after a few tries, when research shows it can take 17 or 18 tries to get a response.

Under pressure, prospecting is the first thing to be canceled, because calling people who know nothing about you or your products can seem like drudgery.

“Call reluctance is real,” says Thomas – especially for the entry-level reps assigned to prospect. “They would rather send an email than make a phone call. They tell us no one will answer because [prospects] are working at home.” But office calls are forwarded to homes, and prospects may actually be more likely to answer because they will be sitting at their desks and not be in office meetings.

As the virus pandemic lingers, all prospecting is virtual, not in person. So ValueSelling takes a multi-channel approach.

  1. Social: Engage social contacts, usually via LinkedIn, to connect with individuals, follow companies, participate in relevant LinkedIn groups with value-added material, and share your own company’s or others’ content.
  2. Email: Use email to create messages that address prospect challenges; vary these messages over time as you gain knowledge about the prospect.
  3. Telephone: “The telephone is still a very powerful tool for prospecting,” Thomas argues. “But you must know what to say when the prospect answers and how to leave a crisp message if the prospect doesn’t answer.”

For cadence, Thomas tries to set up a regular calendar for each of these prospecting activities. It will vary by industry and company, but a typical calendar starts with a 40-hour, five-day sales week.

“You need probably a minimum of five hours a week on phone calls,” she says. “Then you should probably dedicate one hour per day to LinkedIn research. And the same amount of time for crafting and sending emails.”

During a multichannel, cadenced prospecting workshop, ValueSelling helped a digital marketing company triple its connections, quadruple meetings, and increase revenues in the pipeline by $1 million. A similar workshop with a customer experience platform provider immediately grew connections by 600 percent, tripled meetings, and boosted sales accepted leads by a factor of six. Four weeks later quarterly sales were 13% above quota.