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Do I really have to prospect?

“I always do well once I get in front of someone who will hear my story, but how do I get in front of more prospects?”

I hear this often from salespeople and their managers. Most salespeople can sell something if they can get in front of enough people. Prospecting, the art of finding customers, is the area where most salespeople are the weakest. Prospecting is one of the selling disciplines.

Most likely, this roadblock occurs because prospecting takes place at the beginning of the selling cycle when the payoff for the effort expended lies far down the road. Many times, your prospecting efforts result in little or no gain at all. In spite of these obstacles, prospecting remains the lifeblood of every salesperson.

When I train and coach my clients, one thing I emphasize repeatedly is, “Develop a prospecting system." A system for prospecting is a process, not an event, which, if used regularly, produces a consistent, predictable number of leads, which can then be converted into sales.

The most important principle of successful prospecting: “It’s okay to fail.”  How are you going to learn anything if you’re not willing to fail? We learn from our mistakes in life, not our successes.

Calling anyone for the first time is probably the most difficult call you will ever make. Remember Mom saying, “Never talk to strangers,” when you were a child? That was good advice for a little person unfamiliar with the world. However, one of the problems with conditioning is that we tend to carry our early admonitions with us forever, like excess baggage.

“Never talk to strangers,” may have been appropriate at that time, but now it’s archaic and inappropriate. Now strangers are the key to your sales success. Yet many salespeople still hear mom’s voice as they begin their prospecting system.

How are you going to protect yourself from the pain of rejection? By separating your role from your identity, developing a system for prospecting and knowing that you’ll need to get a lot of  nos on your way to sales success.

Remember, you cannot fail at prospecting…you can only fail to prospect.

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Gary Harvey

Gary Harvey is the founder and president of Achievement Dynamics, LLC, a high performance sales training, coaching and development company for sales professionals, managers and business owners. His firm is consistently rated by the Sandler Training as one of the top 10 training centers in the world. He can be reached at 303-741-5200, or gary.harvey@sandler.com.


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