People, STOP holding out on potential buyers!
I talk to salespeople every single day. Hardly one of those days goes by without discussing the most common problem faced by producers: Not enough opportunities in their pipeline.
There are only so many prospecting ways of putting new opportunities in your pipeline, so we start going through the checklist to evaluate their situation. Just know that prospecting and marketing are two different activities. Marketing is about keeping pipelines filled over the long-term. What we’re talking about here with prospecting is the ability to put opportunities in the pipeline right away – like NOW.
Start with ideal
The highest quality opportunity in a pipeline is the one where the salesperson specifically asked a client for a referral or introduction. The close ratio on these opportunities are 5 – 7 times higher than if the same opportunity was created via a cold call. Of course, the quality of client referrals is so high because of the credibility an existing client has when speaking on your behalf.
So, I ask: “Are you asking clients for referrals or introductions?”
Producer: “Um, no”
Note – Recognize that I referenced opportunities where the producer asked for a specific referral/introduction. This is WAY different than the random and occasional referral that comes to you unsolicited. Those opportunities, while still decent, rarely meet the definition of your ideal client and are usually nothing more than price shoppers.
Not quite ideal, but still damn good
The next best source of referrals and introductions are those specifically requested from non-client centers of influence (COI). They still have incredibly high close ratios because of the credibility of the right COI, but they do fall short of the credibility that comes from your existing clients.
So, I ask: “Are you asking COIs for introductions?”
Producer: “Well, sometimes.” (Meaning, “It happened once!”)
Prospecting of the last resort
As I said, there are only so many prospecting activities to generate opportunities. If you aren’t getting referrals/introductions from clients and COIs, the only thing that’s left is cold calling. And that’s only because hoping and praying for opportunities to come to you is NOT a legitimate activity.
While not the favorite option of many, okay most, it still works and is just not optional if you’re not generating referrals and introductions.
Again, I ask: “Well, if you’re not asking for referrals/introduction, you must be cold calling then, right?”
Before I can even finish my question: “Hell no!”
Let’s take inventory
I always marvel at the number of excuses producers can come up with as to why they don’t (WON’T) spend more intentional time doing the cornerstone activity of their job. I know I can’t get them to change their behavior unless I can get them to change the way they view prospecting.
I challenge them, “So, you’re frustrated with your pipeline, right? But you’re not asking clients for referrals, you’re not asking COIs for referrals, and you’re not cold calling, right?”
Hearing how ridiculous it sounds to say this out loud, all I ever get is a self-defeated, “Yeah, that’s about right.”
You kinda suck at sharing
My next question has the most predictable response of all. I then ask, “Do you believe in your heart and in your gut that you, individually and as a collective team, can truly make a significant and positive impact on those prospects that become clients?”
With great passion and confidence, I always hear, “ABSO-FREAKIN-LUTELY!!”
And I believe them.
If you won’t do it for you, do it for them
If you and your team have the ability to improve the results of other businesses, you have a freakin’ fundamental responsibility to make it available to those businesses who need your help. And, this has to start with you reaching out to let them know it’s available.
When you don’t, you’re cheating them out of greater success.
If you're hung up on the idea of prospecting, stop calling it prospecting and start calling it "an offer to share valuable business advice". Or call it whatever you want, just STOP holding out on your buyers!! It just isn’t fair.
Photo by Dean Drobot