I had an experience with one of my client’s top salespeople that prompted me to break out a favorite Princess Bride quote. Like many of you, I’m tired of hearing from today’s nouveau sales experts that prospecting is Dead; that it’s foolish and stupid to even think about picking up the phone to proactively call a prospect who hasn’t yet raised their hand or asked you to call.
I get that prospecting and identifying your own leads and new opportunities is hard. And unpopular. And that the phone isn’t cool anymore. But enough already with the deception and lies (yes, I meant to use the word lies).
They can call prospecting Dead all they want, but just like when Inigo Montoya calls out Vizzini (pictured above) regarding his use of the word inconceivable, isn’t it time for us to bark back at the fools who incessantly proclaim that cold calling is Dead?
“They keep using that word. I don’t think it means what they think it means.”
I don’t care which blue-chip research firm, or how many “studies,” the prospecting is dead crowd cite. Because my own eyes and my own real experience in real companies prove otherwise. I’ve shared these stories occasionally before, but my experience last week was priceless. I accompanied a top salesperson on a trip to the west coast for an initial/discovery meeting with one of his largest named dream prospects. There were three of us from my client (the salesperson, the subject matter expert executive, and me). We meet with three key management personnel from the prospect. We had 90 minutes and it could not have gone better. We learned exactly what we needed to. We built credibility; we created an opportunity, and both sides agreed on appropriate next steps. We were thrilled with the outcome.
Do you know how this salesperson secured the meeting with this dream prospect? Yep. He picked up the phone and called her. And she answered! They spoke for a couple minutes. He did what people who know how to prospect do (see New Sales. Simplified. if you’re note sure what that means) and he secured the meeting.
So prospecting is Dead? It’s foolish and fruitless to use the phone? “They keep using that word (Dead). I don’t think it means what they think it means.”
1. If this topic (prospecting and proactive selling) interests you, check out this engaging dialogue with Douglas Burdett of The Marketing Book Podcast. This might have been the most fun interview I’ve done as we tackled everything from inbound vs. outbound, the straw man statistic that buyers go two-thirds through their process before engaging a salesperson, how to get get a prospect’s attention, and many more new business development best practices. Doug tells me that this episode has been listened to more than any of the 65 he’s published. Hmmm. Maybe everything has not changed in sales…
2. I’m currently reading The Sales Development Playbook by Trish Bertuzzi of The Bridge Group. I can unequivocally state that this is the best-written book I’ve read in years. Trish is succinct, funny, pointed and absolutely brilliant as she tackles this very hot topic. If you’re even thinking about sales development, SDRs, BDRs, or anything remotely related to building or leading a team of inside reps, you must read this book. I’ll do a full-blown review down the road. But don’t wait. There’s a reason this book is so hot and has such strong reviews on Amazon. Go grab this thing.
3. Last month Harvard Business Review had me lead a webinar for senior executives and sales leaders based on the major themes from Sales Management. Simplified. If you’re looking for some blunt truth about the leadership reasons hindering sales performance and a simple framework to get exceptional results from your sales team, the replay was just posted and you can access it here.