February 26, 2012

No One Defaults to Prospecting and New Business Development Mode. No One.

Most of us in sales are not looking for something to do. We operate near peak output and carry a heavy load. Like the school of anchovies pictured above, we are constantly on the move, and doing our best just to keep up with the frenzy around us. In the case of the anchovies, swimming frantically in unison is a defense mechanism that confuses predators and helps protect them from attack.

The sames concepts don’t apply to salespeople. Following the crowd and avoiding conflict is not the formula for sales success. In fact, it is more like a recipe for new business development failure!

Everyday, I see salespeople  who are busy. Busy with service issues. Busy managing existing client relationships. Busy with administrative tasks. They’re not sitting around avoiding work. Many are working harder than ever. They are giving it their all just to keep up with the frantic movement all around them, much like a single anchovy battling to stay alive.

What suffers from all this busyness? The same thing that always suffers – Prospecting and New Business Development. No one defaults to prospecting mode. Prospects rarely call us with urgent requests. They certainly don’t email asking about the status of their orders. They are prospects, not customers. When we return to our desks to find that little red voicemail light flashing, it is highly unlikely the message is from a prospect. Nope. It’s either someone in our own company giving us work to do or getting back to us on something we initiated, or, it’s a current customer in need of attention.

My point? New business development doesn’t just happen. We must carve out time to do it. It’s almost never urgent, although it is  highly important. It is amazing how many salespeople are failing to achieve their new business acquisition goals because they cannot or will not dedicate the appropriate time to proactively pursue prospective customers and new pieces of business from existing accounts. In a lot of cases, the formula is stupidly simple: little effort = little results

My next few posts will offer practical suggestions to help salespeople better plan and execute the new business sales attack. I leave you with this challenge: Monitor your time and track the percentage you are spending responding to work others are putting on your desk (including your best customers) versus the amount of time you are investing intentionally pursuing new business.