Prospecting: Beating the tyranny of the numbers
  • sales
  • Blog post

Prospecting: Beating the tyranny of the numbers

Let’s try a quick exercise. Imagine you’re about to put in a full day – eight hours – prospecting for new business.

First question: How much of that time would you estimate is spent not talking to prospects? Include voice mail messages, numbers no longer in service, conversations with receptionists and assistants, learning that your prospect no longer works at the company, never worked at the company, retired last year, passed away five years ago, etc. etc.

Let’s say that takes up 90 percent of your prospecting day. It might be more or less for you. If so, adjust the numbers that follow accordingly.

Assuming 90 percent of your prospecting calls end up in dead ends, that leaves you just 48 minutes in the day. Now, how many of those minutes would you say are spent talking to prospects who are at least minimally qualified? Not necessarily interested, but having budget, decision-making authority and a potential need for your product or service? About half, would you say?

Now you’re down to just 24 minutes of selling time in front of qualified prospects. If you’re really efficient, that might work out to, oh, four conversations. You know at least three of them won’t be interested – and that’s on a good day.

You may find those numbers depressing. I find them inspirational.

Because what if, simply by spending a couple more minutes with those four qualified prospects, you could get just one more of them interested in continuing the conversation? Not sold – just interested. That would double your prospecting effectiveness. And, given the economics of the sales funnel, that would have a profound impact on your sales numbers.

That’s why the “second effort” is so important in prospecting. It takes a lot of time and effort to reach a qualified prospect. Once you’ve gotten that far, why not give it all you’ve got?

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