We led an in-person sales training program a few years back and had gotten to the end of the first day debrief. One rather bold and honest young producer spoke up, "I have to admit I was skeptical coming into this program. However, I really like what you shared today, and I can see it working."

I thanked her for her frankness and especially for her kind words. As I started to call on the next raised hand, she spoke again, "No, that wasn't really what I wanted to say. I wanted to say that I can see this working ONCE I get in front of someone. Getting in front of someone is my biggest challenge. Prospecting makes me physically ill."

Selling is a difficult and scary job. And, for most salespeople, prospecting is the scariest and most difficult part of that difficult and scary job. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Getting to the heart of the matter

This confession caught the undivided attention and sympathy of the room. I asked her, "What is it about making that call that you find so scary?" Predictably, she answered, "I know they're busy and don't want to be interrupted. I'm afraid they'll get mad at me."

I followed with, "Do you believe your clients are better off working with you than if they didn't?" Her response, "Absolutely!"

I then asked, "Do you feel you and your team have ideas, strategies, and solutions that can make other businesses more successful and profitable at what they do?" She answered, "Yeah, we definitely do."

My turn, "Do you believe that most businesses you may call on are currently struggling with at least one problem you could help them fix?" She said with genuine confidence, "No doubt about it."

My final comment to her was, "I believe you. But I also believe you are cheating every business out there that you don't make aware of your ability to make them more successful." She had a light bulb moment.

Your prospecting calls shouldn't be an interruption offering something they already have (quotes); they should be an offer to share valuable business ideas and insights.

The fear is real

We can quantify the fear beyond the anecdotal examples of how fearful producers are of prospecting. We asked on a LinkedIn poll, "As a benefits or insurance producer, which of the following do you find the most difficult and terrifying?" Here were the results:

  • Making cold calls – 35%
  • Asking clients for referrals – 6%
  • Creating educational content – 10%
  • Facing an empty pipeline – 49% 

Think about that! Most producers (51%) fear at least one prospecting activity more than they do having to deal with an empty pipeline.

To avoid dealing with that fear, producers offer up countless excuses for not prospecting:

  • "I have too much service work to do."
  • "I have to add notes to the CRM."
  • "I have to visit with existing clients."
  • "I have vendors to vet."
  • "I have to organize my notes."
  • "I have to research first."
  • My favorite is, "I REALLY want to prospect more, and I will as soon as I can find/make the time."

I call BS! Sure, these are all legitimate responsibilities of producers, but there is still plenty of time left over to work on filling the pipeline.

You can't make time. You won't find time. Time is finite. You can only prioritize how you spend the limited time you have.

I understand that prospecting isn't easy, and it's more difficult today than ever before. But it's still the foundation of the sales job producers sign up for.

Now, pick up that phone and offer to help someone.

 

Photo by adam121