When Things Dry Up!


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Marketing has been developing fantastic content.  They are leveraging every analytic tool imaginable, they’ve got marketing automation tools, they’re active on social channels, doing everything possible to generate demand.

Sales people wait for the coveted SQL–the Sales Qualified Lead.

Regardless of what’s been agreed between marketing and sales, to a sales person the SQL is a buying ready (hopefully PO ready) lead.  The customer is interested, they want to talk to sales–in fact they were probably on the verge of calling sales themselves.

In an ideal world, every sales person has the right flow of SQL to keep healthy pipelines, so sales people can do what they do best—doing deals.

At least, according to all the books and blog posts one reads, that’s the way things work.  Content, marketing programs, nurturing, lead gen–throw in some tough work by SDR’, and all the qualified leads we need are generated, we just have to qualify them a final time then close them.

Get real!  Wake up and smell the coffee!  (Oops, I forgot coffee is for closers;-)  )

I meet with thousands of sales people and executives every year.   They may be in varying industries, they are spread around the world.  They may have very complex, long cycle sales/buying processes, they may be more transactional.  Regardless of market, solution, region, sales/buying cycle there is one universal truth.

They never have enough opportunities, on a sustained basis, to maintain healthy pipelines!

This isn’t a knock on marketing, they are doing great things and doing the best they can to drive demand.  Sometimes there’s a surplus of leads, sometimes regardless of what’s done, there are not enough.

Fingers start pointing, arguments ensue.  Task forces are assembled to redefine MQL, SQL, align goals and metrics, and scratch their heads to figure out how to drive demand.

Sales people whine, “I’m missing my numbers because I don’t have enough high quality leads!”  “I missing thousands in commission dollars, when am I going to get enough leads?”  But they don’t do anything, they wait because the alternative strikes terror in their souls—they have to prospect!

There’s one group that’s quietly being successful.  They welcome everything marketing does, but know they will always need more than marketing can supply.  They know they are accountable for doing the all the things that enable them to make their numbers.  They are ruthless qualifiers.  They develop and execute winning sales strategies.  They create value in every interaction with the customer.  They challenge the customer, they get them to think differently.

These top performers are obsessed and relentless!  They are Fanatics in everything they do—never leaving anything to chance.

They don’t wait for anyone else, the leverage every marketing program they can, but they go out to find deals themselves—they prospect!

And like everything else they do, they are Fanatical in their Prospecting!

In his latest book, Jeb Blount attacks Fanatical Prospecting in a direct no holds barred manner.

There’s a huge amount I like in the book–the no nonsense, direct, pragmatic approaches.  The disciplined approach to dedicating time everyday to prospecting, and using that time as effectively and efficiently as possible.

But Jeb won me over in the first few chapters.  Contrary to so many books and articles on the topic–books promising miracle cures, others saying you never have to cold call, others saying it’s all about social, Jeb starts out declaring prospecting isn’t easy!  It’s tough, it requires commitment, discipline, constant focus and execution.  There is nothing magic about reaching enough customers, getting them to engage.  It’s work–it is a numbers game–but there are things we can do to shift those numbers in our favor.

Fanatical Prospecting first dispels many of the myths, wishful thinking, and just plain bad advice on prospecting.  Jeb gets you to focus on reality–if you don’t prospect, you aren’t likely to have enough to fill your pipeline.  If you don’t prospect constantly, you may be OK this month, but when your pipeline is empty, how are you going to make your numbers?

After Jeb shatters all the myths and bad advice, he offers a pragmatic and simple guide to maximize the impact of every hour you spend on prospecting.  Again, it’s not a one size fits all approach.  Jeb recognizes there are huge differences in what each of us sells, how we sell most effectively, and how we need to prospect to get customers engaged.  While none of what he outlines is easy—he keeps us focused on constantly simplifying everything we do.

Prospecting is what sales people do–it is what top performers have always done and will always do.  Fanatical Prospecting is what top performers do!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


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