This is an excerpt from my second book, Managing the Sales Process, available on Amazon.com. You can find a series of these excerpts in a dedicated blog category to get a broad overview, post-by-post, of the book (they are listed in reverse order in the category, so start with the oldest).

From Chapter 2 – The Right Skills: Prospecting  – Is not knowing how to prospect stopping you or your team?

Sometimes a lack of prospecting activity can stem from something as simple as just not knowing how to do it effectively. In your weakest potential salespeople, this lack of prospecting knowledge will result in a lack of effort. In your best prospective salespeople, this lack of knowledge will result in frustration. I know, because this is how my career in sales began.

Starting out, I cold-called to get new business. I was not good at it. I had no idea how to do it. No plan. No mentor. Just a list of phone numbers, a hope, and a prayer.

It really sucked! So did my results.

So I bought a few books about cold calling. From these books, I selected tips that seemed to make sense, created a strategy, developed some tactical tools, and went at it. My success increased enormously ─ not immediately, but faster than I expected. By hanging in there and teaching myself how to do it efficiently and effectively, I found success.

When you are interviewing prospective salespeople, ask about prospecting experiences. Dig into details about their methods. Ask them to say to you what they say to prospects. The goal of prospecting is to get a chance to talk about business, which usually requires the salesperson to set up a request for that kind of conversation. If they have done it before, they can demonstrate for you examples of how they did this. This is no guarantee that they will do it in the future, but someone who previously has overcome the prospecting challenge is probably a better bet than someone who has not.

Many salespeople drift from job to job because they never can figure out how to generate enough new business. You will be better off finding those who have determined this for themselves in the past. To some extent, it does not even matter if they were successful. Many people who find success in the long run struggle with different methods and methodologies before finding their “groove.” You want to hire someone who has the drive to try to figure out the best way and who is not afraid to execute it. This kind of person will serve you much better than one who gets frustrated and gives up.

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Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)

So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.

If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:

The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.

Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.

The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.

If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.

Here’s to your success!

-David