Finding and connecting with quality prospects is at the top of most sellers and sales leader’s minds right now. Even while a few commentators are saying it looks like there might be a couple of positive signs in the economy, salespeople are digging deeper than ever to find prospects.
Last September I wrote a blog post that featured some cheaper alternatives to Salesgenie. For most of the past year that post has received somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 to 15 page views a day.
Boy has that changed.
Over the past three months that post’s page visits have doubled, tripled, quadrupled. For the past several weeks that post gets anywhere from 80 to 120 page visits a day. Every day. Without fail.
At the same time, the questions I get from sellers and managers have changed also. Although most of my work is in the areas of prospecting and personal marketing, I’ve always received a significant number of emails and inquiries about a broad spectrum of sales and sales management issues. Not today. Whereas in the past about 50% of the questions and inquiries I received were prospecting or personal marketing focused, that number has jumped today to the 80 to 85% neighborhood.
In a recent informal poll on another trainer’s website, over 60% of respondents identified finding and connecting with quality prospects as their most pressing issue.
Although finding and connecting with quality prospects has always been a significant challenge even in good times, it is far more difficult now. For a great many sellers it’s a whole new world to sell into—and it ain’t the least bit fun.
Today there are a number of factors that make it difficult to get prospect’s attention such as:
Economic uncertainty: the recession has been broad and deep and according to several polls, most people believe it will continue for the next 12 to 18 months. Prospects are concerned about their and their business’s financial health. In response, they are more hesitant to spend money, especially if they believe they can get along without the product or service being offered.
Political uncertainty: with several pieces of legislation on the table such as healthcare and carbon taxation that may have a grave impact on prospect or their company, many are refusing to make any purchasing commitments until they know specifically what, if any, impact these pieces of legislation will have on them
Objective, expert guidance at their fingertips: many prospects no longer want to engage sellers until they are ready to purchase, leaving sellers out of much, if not all, of the critical issue analysis and decision making process and in many cases relegating sellers to being simply a commodity supplier instead of a problem solver. Rather than trusting the information and guidance offered by a seller that the prospect perceives to be biased, a growing number of prospects are turning to what they believe to be unbiased, objective information and guidance by true experts which is readily available for free on the internet or for free or at minimal cost in the immense number of new specialty publications now available. Then, once they have analyzed their issue and developed their own solution, they call in sellers and seek out the lowest cost products or services needed to implement the solution they devised.
Many sellers are finding their traditional ways of connecting with prospects such as cold calling, direct mail, asking for referrals, or networking at the chamber of commerce meeting or the breakfast leads group to be increasingly less effective.
The good news is that there are effective ways to find and connect with high quality prospects in today’s marketplace. Better yet, those strategies that work in today’s tough marketplace will continue to work when the economy does eventually recover.
Over the next weeks my objective will be to explore ways to make these traditional connection methods more effective, as well as to introduce some strategies and methods that have proven to be far more effective for many. We’ll challenge some commonly accepted sales knowledge; reinforce some tried and true strategies; and hopefully add some new strategies and techniques to your process that will open new doors and add new sales into your pipeline.