Guest Column | January 6, 2014

Prospecting: It's A Numbers Game

By Gil Cargill, Sales Acceleration Coach, Cargill Consulting Group, Inc.

It's an old cliché that prospecting is a numbers game. This is very true, but not enough of us know what the real numbers are. You see, as I said in an earlier article, you must make two sales to get a new account. The first sale is the sale of an appointment to discuss the value of your offer, and the second sale is to actually close the transaction and get a contract/check. The statistics associated with selling in this environment are pretty enlightening; they are as follows.

  • 48% of salespeople never follow up with a prospect.
  • 25% of salespeople make a second contact and stop.
  • 12% of salespeople only make three contacts and stop.
  • Only 10% of salespeople make more than three contacts; these are the people that I refer to as The Tenacious Ten Percent. The Tenacious Ten have more sales success because they have more first meetings. 

The numbers go on.

  • 2% of appointments are booked on the first contact. 
  • 3% of appointments are made on the second contact. 
  • 5% of appointments are made on the third contact. 
  • 10% of appointments are made on the fourth contact. 
  • 80% of all appointments are made on the fifth to the twelfth contact. 

Now, ask yourself, how many times do you follow up to get an appointment?

You see, it is a numbers game but, far too often, the numbers are not adhered to. The vast majority of salespeople abandon their efforts to get a new appointment with a new prospect prematurely. One email won't do it; neither will one cold call. You must be tenacious, persistent, yet professional. Badgering a prospect absolutely will not work. The old-school approach of manipulating a prospect into a first meeting is equally unproductive.

Today's buyer must have a relationship, prior to even considering your offer. Today's buyer does not want to be sold; rather, they want to be allowed to buy. They must understand your value.  This is another area where many sellers get into trouble because they are attempting to sell their product, not the appointment.

So, once again, let's get ready for 2014 by breaking down the value, from the prospect's point of view, of meeting with you. What's in it for your prospect to meet with you? What will they learn? What potential value do you deliver to them?  If the prospect doesn't understand the value, he/she just won't move forward; that's a fact.  You have no more of a chance of changing these realities than you do of reversing the force of gravity.

So, as my old high school coach used to say, you must "go with the flow." In other words, gear your prospecting to get a relationship. Make sure that each of your contacts with a prospect delivers value to the prospect. Do not badger your prospects. Be tenacious and recognize that you must touch that prospect's brain upwards of ten or twelve times to get an appointment. This is the new reality of selling in the 21st century. Unfortunately, far too many sales forces fail to recognize this.

It's even more tragic, when you consider how easy it is for you to touch a prospect. Judicious use of email marketing will help you find the prospects that are interested in talking to you. End the fruitless searching (a.k.a. prospecting) and utilize email to find the people that are interested in talking to you right now. 

This article was originally published at http://gilcargill.com/numbers-game/

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