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What’s Holding Your Prospecting Back? By Kendra Lee

sales expert Kendra LeeThere aren’t many certainties in selling. What works well for one person can be a dead end for another, and what looks like a sure sale can easily deteriorate into a missed opportunity.

One thing you can count on, however, is that a lack of strong, qualified leads will always be a stumbling block on the way to new business.

In that way, prospecting and lead generation are somewhat unique activities. While you can be a strong presenter, closer, or negotiator, none of that will ever matter if you don’t have enough leads to work with. And yet, coming up with a full sales pipeline is a constant challenge for sellers in every field and industry.

Here are a few of the common reasons why and the keys to getting past them.

* Prospecting and selling are different skills. Great salespeople aren’t always great lead generators. They may be fantastic account managers, or perfect when it comes to closing warm leads, but struggle to find new opportunities from scratch.

* Nobody likes awkward conversations. There are entire books and seminars devoted to “cold call reluctance,” and they all come down to the same thing: nobody likes calling strangers and asking for business. Most of us don’t enjoy receiving those calls, and so you certainly don’t relish making them!

* A full pipeline can lead to an empty cupboard. When do sellers concentrate most on prospecting? When they don’t have enough sales opportunities in the works. The moment they do, they cast prospecting aside for activities that are more enjoyable. Then it’s only a matter of time before they’re back at square one – with no new leads to pursue.

Looking at this short list, it’s easy to see why sellers have so much trouble finding enough leads. Prospecting and lead generation just don’t fit in with most of our skill sets and motivations.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t overcome these prospecting challenges!

The real secret to beating them – and ensuring a steady flow of new business in your pipeline – is in understanding that the keys to prospecting are discipline and the right message.

The need for discipline, as often as it comes up in sales, is relatively straightforward: you just have to commit yourself to prospecting on a fixed, regular schedule and be accountable to it.

There’s no secret.

You simply have to understand that it works over the long term, start doing it, and keep going even when your pipeline seems full. Don’t stop!

Because this is so important, a key component of any successful selling strategy has to be monitoring and accountability. It’s up to you, either as the seller or person in charge of overseeing sales, to be sure that daily, weekly, and quarterly targets are hit. Otherwise, it’s only a matter of time before you run out of leads.

Having the right message is just as critical.

One reason so many of us hate receiving prospecting calls is that we don’t really trust the sellers on the other end. In other words, we get the distinct feeling that they’re more interested in our money than our needs.

But there’s no rule that says that’s how you have to make your calls and introductions.

Instead of being “just another seller,” distinguish yourself by finding out exactly why your customers do business with you. What do they love about you? How have your solutions changed their business?

Use that information to create a genuine message. Doing so not only makes you more comfortable with the process of finding and approaching new potential clients. It also allows you to start better conversations, ones that are focused on prospects’ needs, and the value you can bring them, rather than your offerings.

Prospecting has been a challenge for sellers since the invention of commerce. By focusing on discipline and the right message you can keep a steady flow of new business coming in like clockwork.
Kendra Lee is author of “Selling Against the Goal” and president of KLA Group. Ms. Lee is a frequent speaker at national sales meetings and association events. To find out more about the author, as well as subscribe to her newsletter visit www.klagroup.com or call +1 303.773.1285.

-Do you have any additional helpful sales prospecting ideas? If so, please share it in the comments section below.

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