The No. 1 Prospecting Challenge


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There’s no denying it, prospecting isn’t easy. Yet, to succeed in sales, you can’t sit back and wait for the phone to ring or your email to ding. You must proactively generate your own leads to fill the pipeline.

We asked 489 sellers who outbound prospect to share their biggest prospecting challenge. One problem rose to the top. Sixty-six percent agreed that people in their organization don’t dedicate enough time or energy to prospecting.

Of all the prospecting challenges out there — targeting, getting through to buyers, developing offers, and consistent outreach — making time for prospecting and actually get it done tops the list.

It takes ongoing effort and energy to succeed at prospecting. It’s no wonder that Top Performers in sales prospecting—those with the best prospecting results—enjoy this and have a positive attitude about it. When comparing Top Performers to The Rest, we found the following:

Credit: RAIN Group Center for Sales Research

More than one-third of respondents reported that prospecting is the least appealing part of what they do in sales. Meanwhile, Top Performers enjoy creating new opportunities and feel energized after prospecting.

Having this motivation is one of the four keys to prospecting success. We call it “Having a Winner’s Mindset.” Your attitude and focus are key aspects to your success.

3 Ways to Keep Prospecting Motivation High

Prospecting success starts with motivation. If your sellers aren’t motivated to prospect and if they don’t enjoy prospecting (to some extent), it doesn’t matter if they get everything else right, your results will suffer.

There are ways to boost motivation. Here are three ideas.

1. Focus on Value: In other research, The Top Performing Sales Organization, we found a remarkable correlation between sales motivation and value. Companies that focus on the value they can bring forth to buyers are much more likely to have motivated sales forces.

We also found that Value-Driven respondents in our prospecting research were much more likely to rate their prospecting as excellent, very good, or good.

And it makes sense. When sellers truly believe in the offer they’re reaching out to buyers with, and that it will make a significant difference for their buyers, they experience much greater success. When you’re proud of something and believe in it, you want to share it with others.

Nothing is more demotivating than having to smile and dial for a product or service that you yourself don’t believe in. To boost motivation, make sure your sellers are focused on value and truly believe in the value they bring to buyers.

2. Make Prospecting Tasks Clear: Researchers at Harvard Business School studied hundreds of sellers to find out what motivates them most. They studied four factors:

a. Personality: the strength of the sellers need for achievement.
b. Quality of Management: the method and quality of supervision.
c. Compensation Plan: pay scale plans and how much sellers were paid.
d. Task clarity: whether or not sellers know what to do on a day to day basis.

They found that if the seller is clear on what they need to do, they’re much more motivated.

This is great news if you’re trying to boost prospecting motivation because you can create well planned prospecting campaigns with offers and a mix of outreach methods that touch your buyers overtime. Then, you can work with your sellers to consistently implement these campaigns.

Not only will you start to see greater prospecting success, but you’ll also see motivation begin to sour.

3. Provide Coaching and Support: While the study above had “Quality of Management” on the bottom of their motivation factors, they also noted that they didn’t find much for quality in sales management!

In our research, we have found quality sales managers, and learned that the more they spend time coaching sellers, the more motivated sellers are. When you’re focused, on task, and experiencing success, it’s motivating. A coach can help with all of these things and more.

Prospecting doesn’t have to be the least appealing part of a seller’s job. You can overcome the lacking energy and enthusiasm around prospecting in your organization. Start by considering these three ways to boost the motivation of your team.

Mike Schultz
Mike Schultz is a best-selling author of Rainmaking Conversations, Insight Selling, and Virtual Selling. He's the Director of the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research and President of RAIN Group, a global sales training company. He and RAIN Group have helped hundreds of thousands of salespeople, managers, and professionals in more than 73 countries improve sales results and unleash their sales potential.


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