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Posted by John Ferguson, Senior Consultant with ASLAN Training

John can be reached at jferguson@aslantraining.com
pending too much time on low probability prospects can put a serious damper on your sales execution and the receptivity of your audience. A sales team that is not effective at qualifying prospects before they begin their sales process is a bit like someone holding a heavy metal concert for a group of classical music enthusiasts. You may have gotten people’s attention, but they aren’t going to like what they hear. Prospecting is one of the most critical activities for any sales team, but it needs to be handled effectively in order for your reps and your organization to reap the maximum benefit.

Why Prospecting Matters and How We Get Distracted From It

Sales Prospecting is one of, if not the single most important activity that sales reps can engage in. It represents the very top of the sales funnel and the first activity that needs to be completed in order to establish new sales.

It seems counterintuitive, then, that many sales reps seem to be opposed to prospecting. They constantly make excuses not to do it, claiming they have other concerns to tend to, that they don’t get paid to prospect, or that they are already filling their quota. They end up putting it off indefinitely until it never ends up happening. Even the sales reps who don’t postpone their prospecting are often hindered by a less obvious foe: low probability prospects.

Avoiding Low Probability Prospecting

One of the most important things for a sales rep to learn is how to avoid low probability prospecting, or targeting prospecting efforts towards those who are not well qualified. There are several kinds of unqualified prospects; in some cases, prospects may be unqualified because they do not currently have the budget for what you are selling, but will, soon. Other prospects may appreciate the value of what you offer but don’t have a need for it right now. Although it is certainly worthwhile to keep these prospects in mind for future efforts, it is important for a sales rep to be prospecting for those who are currently qualified to purchase what they are offering.

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How can a well-meaning sales rep avoid the trap of low probability prospecting? It’s not always easy. Even the most seasoned sales reps have moments where they are engaging with a prospect they thought was qualified, but ends up not being a good fit for their products or services for whatever reason.

One of the easiest ways to avoid low probability sales prospecting is to use quality prospecting processes. Prospecting tools, such as CRM platforms, are designed to help make it easy for sales reps to determine whether or not they are targeting prospects that need what they are selling. With the right CRM, you can develop a sophisticated buyer persona, allowing you to set out your guidelines for a perfect prospect:

  • Need: there should be an issue or problem that your service or product can help address
  • Willingness to act: will the prospect be willing to purchase what you have to offer any time soon?
  • Decision-maker access: do you have access to the one who is capable of making this kind of decision?
  • Priority: does your solution rank high enough in the organizational priority list?
  • Budget: they should have enough money to afford what you are offering

These are five things needed for a prospect to be qualified, but these characteristics are only the beginning. Sales reps also have to work to make a connection and relationship with the prospect so that your business can be considered a suitable vendor with whom the prospect will choose to spend money.

Remember that for any organization, a sales rep is not the only method for prospecting. The creation and utilization of marketing content through marketing automation platforms can be a great asset for helping with qualifying prospects in the early stages. Also, make sure to ask for referrals from past business partners or groups to aid in your qualification process.

The potential for prospecting is endless. Once you and your sales team understand that saying “no” to a prospect isn’t the end of the world, you will succeed in your efforts to find qualified customers for your business and stop wasting time on low probability prospecting. Take a few minutes to review your pipeline and sales activity from the previous year and it should be easier to identify and highlight some of the low probability prospects from your pipeline and learn to focus on the ones that have the best chance of helping you meet your sales goals.

ASLAN for Life: Life is full of prospects where you can invest your personal time and effort. Choosing who and what you will serve determines the measure of success at the end of the race.

- See more at: http://www.aslantraining.com/blog/sales-prospecting-earning-presidents-and-benjamins-faster#sthash.nfTL8pl3.dpuf

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