A Strong Prospecting Strategy Starts with a Customer Focus


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As a sales leader, you already know that customers’ buying behaviors and preferences have changed, and this shift means that sales organizations must re-evaluate the way that they engage customers at every point in the sales cycle, including prospecting.

Here, we, at Richardson Sales Training, looks at why it is important to revisit your team’s prospecting strategy and explore options to improve this critical step in the selling cycle.

Why Your Team’s Prospecting Strategy is Ineffective

Before making changes to your team’s prospecting strategy, it is important to understand the reason’s that your team’s prospecting efforts might be falling flat.

Sending the Wrong Message Over Too Many Channels:

Ineffective prospecting increases the sales cycle. Longer sales cycles drive costs. This problem is common among selling organizations. In fact, according to McKinsey, the purchase process regularly involves six different interaction channels.

Each of these interaction channels adds another cost. Rising costs often lead to the decision to leverage even more channels. This approach doesn’t solve the underlying problem. More channels will not help until the message is perfected.

Unmotivated Sales Professionals Are Unengaged:

A strong prospecting strategy is not just about dollars and cents; it’s also about motivation. Unsuccessful prospecting erodes morale. Unfortunately, the connection between effective prospecting and motivation goes unnoticed.

The reason: many believe extrinsic motivation drives change. In truth, intrinsic motivators drive change. A Gallup survey of more than ten million employees from over 110 countries showed that “the extent to which people feel powerful and engaged in their work is directly linked to positive business outcomes.” Effective prospecting is the ultimate motivator.

Too Much Time Spent Sifting Through Bad Data:

Reaching viable leads is expensive. Therefore, sales professionals need to make it count when they get there. Priming the pump is costing sales organizations big dollars. Sales professionals are forced to churn through duplicate and invalid data.

Many industries face this challenge. Consider the staggering $3.1 trillion cost of poor quality data according to the Harvard Business Review. As a result, managing data demands more time than using the data. Earning the conversation is expensive. So, sales professionals need to have a customized message when they reach the customer.

Refocusing and Reinvigorating Your Prospecting Strategy

Effective prospecting is important because it touches on every area of the business. Sales cycles, morale, and resources all come into play.

As a sales leader, you need a smarter way to prospect. To do so, you must consider three factors that lead to a successful prospecting strategy:

Adopting the Customer’s Mindset:

Customers want to be part of the solution and not a piece of a transaction. Adopt a style of shared commitment. Doing so puts more ownership in the customer’s hands.

With ownership comes a resolve to overcome the business challenge or reach a revenue goal. The idea is to encourage your sales team to move past the role of a sales professional and become a trusted advisor. How can you accomplish this? Research offers some answers:

One study found “evidence that people desire power not to be a master over others, but to be master of their own domain, to control their own fate.”

Help your team foster consultative skills, which allow customers to participate in formulating a solution. Train your team to ask questions designed to uncover the customer’s needs. Doing so not only advances the sale, it also helps foster the customer’s resolve to leverage their autonomy and act.

Focus on Preparation That Leads to Insights:

Resistance is part of prospecting. Therefore, your sales professionals should come prepared. Train your team to front-load their prospecting efforts by researching the customer.

Research yields insights that legitimize the team’s presence in front of the customer. This step is important when working with the initial contact or a higher-level stakeholder. Build ideas that resonate with the customer with company-specific information from CRM systems. Original, insightful ideas are rare, and they distinguish a sales professional.

Insights matter because customers control more of the purchasing process than ever before. Customers have greater access to information. As a result, “Only 12% of buyers want to meet in person with a sales representative when determining a purchasing decision,” according to Accenture. A relevant insight gives the customer a reason to stop and listen. Insights get attention.

Implement a Referral Strategy:

Building trust within the span of a single call is difficult. Developing a structured referral process will help overcome this challenge.

Referrals are effective because they introduce an unbiased opinion into the sales dialogue. They focus the conversation around positivity by showing how their partnership with another customer can drive similar results with a new customer. A strong referral strategy is critical because, as one study shows, referred customers deliver 16% more in profits and are 18% more likely to remain as customers when compared to non-referred customers.

In this new selling environment, sales teams who are successful in their prospecting efforts understand the importance of respecting the customer’s need for autonomy, offering insights, and leveraging goodwill from referrals. For more insights on how we at Richardson can help to improve your sales prospecting, check our latest white paper, Prospecting in a Noisy World

Ben Taylor, MBA
Ben Taylor is the content marketing manager at Richardson. He has an MBA in finance from LaSalle University and over a decade of business & writing experience. He has covered content for brands including Nasdaq, Barclaycard & Business Insider.


  1. Ben, I would like to take this one level deeper.
    Why not discuss with customers if and how they want to split ownership between you and them? Upto what depth they want to discuss their needs? Ask them to send you relevant material/links before the first conversation? etc. instead of deciding yourself how to do this?
    Isn’t this the best way to adopt a full customer focus?

  2. Once in a while the inconspicuous approach doesn’t yield the data you are searching for and a more straightforward approach is required. It has regularly been said that on the off chance that you need to know something, you should simply inquire. Client overviews are a brilliant method to get client criticism and numerous organizations are presently embracing this approach. It starts by essentially asking clients preceding or quickly following a commitment on the off chance that they will take an interest in a short review. While numerous clients decide to not take an interest, there are the individuals who have no issue giving five minutes of their opportunity to give criticism. Through these studies, organizations can assemble unequivocal data on the kind of encounters clients are having.


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