Prospecting the Hard Way

Photo by delphaber va Flickr

I’m not that keen on banging my head off walls.

But some sales people are. Mostly sales people that have been trained in “old school selling techniques”.

The ”old school” maintains that “sales is a numbers game” and the numbers that matter are all about effort. All about volume. One of the key indicators of success is the number of cold calls you can make.

Unfortunately the way “more” comes out for many sales people is more calls to the same person.

Many sales people have been told that they should “call high”. That they should figure out who the decision-maker is for their product or service and call that person — A LOT

I’ve seen many sales people that take this advice as sacrosanct. They call and call the one “important” person in the target account. They’ve heard it takes seven attempts to reach this person. They’ve heard most sales people give up after one or two tries but it takes seven. If you just keep going to seven you will get through.

I have had sales people in my own teams call the CIO of a major account thirty (30) times and never get through. But they kept trying. They wanted to do good work. They wanted to win. But they never advanced the sale one iota.

Things have changed. What might have taken seven calls now takes 30, 40, 50 calls. Certain types of people in large companies, like CIOs, are bombarded by overeager technology sales people all day. They hardly ever pick up their phone unless they know for sure that  that caller ID is someone important to them. They hardly ever answer a cold email or even read it, unless they recognize the sender as someone they care about.

They are screened from all this. They simply don’t have time. They have WAY too much to do to deal with these cold calls.

Research by Marketing Sherpa conducted for several years asked buyers how many people are involved in buying a technology product over $25,000 in value? The answer: 21 (twenty one.)

Twenty one people involved in buying your technology. So why sell to ONE?

There are twenty other ways to get a real conversation about whether that company would buy your type of solution.

Over my years in sales, I’ve observed getting that first real conversation, getting that first bit of inside information about what’s going on in the account, is one of the key inflexion points in the whole sales cycle.

So speak to someone in there that knows what’s going on. Find out if the account is a qualified target for you right now. Find out about trigger events (such-and-such project is funded, such-and-such department is getting a new SVP etc). Get in one of the twenty one doors available to you.

You can always call high once you’re armed with information. In fact this is the only way you should call high. You need to be informed. Execs have ZERO time to mess about. They have no time for uninformed sales people. You need to have done your homework.

Think about ALL the people in your target account you can speak to. Not one.

Don’t head bang. (Unless you love heavy metal.)


  1. Deals Have Momentum | Inceasing Your Sales - October 7, 2013

    […] may be talking to people you don’t know in the prospect account (remember there could be up 21 people involved in buying your product in there.) You’re not plugged into this internal communication. So you don’t see the […]

Leave a Reply