Sales is different from Prospecting.   A couple of friends of mine were talking about the lack of really great sales individuals available in the market. Of course the conversation switched to me in wondering how to train sales individuals more effectively. I argued the point that it’s not that we have a lack of sales professionals, we have a huge lack of prospecting professionals. This launched into a deeper discussion of what that meant.

When you are working with a sales person, it’s very important to separate prospecting from sales. 90% of the time it is a prospecting issue. If you fail to make a distinction, you can kill a promising sales career before it begins.

If we are dealing with a validated system, (going into broken prospecting systems is too complex for this article), here are the 3 things to look for:

  • Number of touches – This is the obvious one that many times people struggle with meeting enough people, making enough calls, etc. Until the prospector is making enough calls, all of the other points are mute. If they are struggling with number of touches, we can quickly identify that as an internal issue to work through.
  • Following the talk tracks – If they are making the right amount of calls and they aren’t converting into appointments, following the talk tracks is the first place to look. Usually what happens is what starts out as a strong marketing message is lost because the key points are not communicated.
  • Voice Tonality/Pitch/Speed – IF they are following the talk tracks and still not getting results, they have a communication style problem. Much of this reach is based on NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), and can be learned through repetition and practice.

One more side note is I see people give up on prospecting way to early. Experience has shown us that we don’t start working on any of the above until the prospector has made 800-1000 practiced touches (800 seems to be the magic number where people figure it out).

If they are struggling with making the touches, it’s time to attack some of the fears around cold calling (success/failure, etc).

Remember, training prospectors is much different from training sales teams. It’s very much activity based and needs to be tightly controlled in the early stages to keep people on the right track.

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