In this article:
- About Gord Smith and Dan McDonald of The RAIN Group
- A Study on Prospecting
- Prospecting Myth #1: Buyers Don’t Want To Hear From Sellers Early On In The Sales Process
- Prospecting Myth #2: Cold Calling Is Dead
- Prospecting Myth #3: It Is A Challenge to Breakthrough With A Buyer
- Prospecting Myth #4: Cold Meetings Won’t Convert Into Sales Wins
- Prospecting Myth #5: It Is Difficult To Add Value To Buyer Meetings
How To Turn Prospecting Myths Into Sales Wins
Prospecting Definition: The first step salespeople go through in the sales process. This involves identifying potential customers for the business, also known as the prospects. Salespeople also communicate with potential customers through prospecting, with the goal of converting them into a client. This is an important part of the sales process, as the success of prospecting can mean more sales wins for the business.
About Gord Smith and Dan McDonald of The RAIN Group
Prospecting is the launchpad of the sales process, and so it is important that it produces good results.
To give us more insight on popular myths in prospecting, we talked to Gord Smith and Dan McDonald from the RAIN Group. They did a study on prospecting and shared with us the results and insights they gathered from their research.
Gord is a Consulting Partner at RAIN Group, and he’s primarily focused on the Canadian market. Dan is their Director of Business Development in Canada.
The RAIN Group is a global sales consulting company. They work with companies to improve the overall sales process and messaging, among others.
They also help developers through different training programs. Smith and McDonald are working on bringing RAIN Group to the various markets in Canada and the United States.
A Study on Prospecting
Almost all organizations struggle with prospecting, and that’s what drove RAIN Group to conduct their first study about it.
Prospecting is a critical part of the sales function and has evolved in recent years. In their study, RAIN Group wanted to learn what top performance in prospecting looks like.
Their research involved a panel of sales leaders from around the world with whom they also shared their insights with. Their demographics were interesting—they talked to 488 buyers and 489 sellers.
Like most of their research studies, they included a global group of buyers and sellers. Their study in prospecting covered over 25 industries on each side.
They involved both sides, so they were able to see things like prospecting and sales types and functions from the perspective of both the seller and the buyer.
As Dan said, the buyer information is absolutely critical in teaching and coaching sellers to get into the buyer’s mindset. RAIN Group makes it a point to value buyer information as one of the critical aspects of their studies.
Prospecting may be what sellers do, but you also have to look at it from the buyer’s perspective.
Prospecting Myth #1: Buyers Don’t Want To Hear From Sellers Early On In The Sales Process
The first myth in prospecting is that buyers go a long way through the buying journey before they reach out to sellers. It’s almost as if saying, why bother with prospecting?
Smith revealed that they were able to determine in the study that 82% of buyers will accept meetings from a seller — people they don’t know. Not only will they accept meetings, but they also prefer to hear from sellers, and to hear from them early on in the sales process.
During the early part of the sales process, before the prospects are actually ready to buy, 71% of them want to hear from a seller. This proves that this prospecting concept is one of the myths a lot of sellers may not know about.
The earlier you can get in front of the buyer, the better. Buyers actually want to hear from the sellers early on in the sales process.
Prospecting Myth #2: Cold Calling Is Dead
The second myth is you can’t do cold calling anymore. RAIN Group’s study reiterated that cold calling is an essential part of a prospecting scenario.
The two most favored methods when it comes to reaching out to a cold market are email and phone call. We’ve all heard that cold calling is dead, but in fact, their study showed that cold emails and phone calls are still relevant.
These two communication methods are still very relevant ways of starting a prospecting exercise and are still very important.
As Smith said, you will be more successful in generating responses and striking up conversations with strangers if you combine different communication techniques.
You should not stick to only one means. It’s about creating a traction campaign that’s a combination of different communication strategies.
Remember, there are some people who may not read emails. Some do not like receiving voicemails or getting phone calls, so it’s important to have a varied strategy to contact your prospects.
For example, you can send subsequent emails to your prospect, leave them voicemails, and connect with them on LinkedIn. Combine those, plan them out, and prepare a really good offer and message to get the highest response rate.
Smith also shared that sometimes, sellers look for one single silver bullet. What he learned though, is that combining different communication techniques into a really good outreach is the best practice to attract prospects.
McDonald gave good advice when he said that sellers should try different methods so they can find trends. When you see a strategy that works better than the others, adjust your plan to go with what’s hot — be flexible.
RELATED: The Seven Rules of Cold Calling
Prospecting Myth #3: It Is A Challenge to Breakthrough With A Buyer
The third myth is the challenge of gaining a breakthrough with a buyer. These days, a lot of organizations focus on communicating the value of their offers, which isn’t the most effective way of gaining said breakthrough.
When they reach out to prospects, they jump right into explaining their offers, and that’s their initial focus. Often, there’s not enough value communicated as to why the buyer should meet with the seller.
Smith revealed that the focus should really be on offering buyers something of value. It could be insights from a research study or best practices they can apply.
Sellers should focus on a message that sells the value of the first meeting and what the buyer is going to get out of it. They should save the value of their offers for a subsequent meeting, once they’ve established credibility.
Smith suggests that, during that first meeting with the buyer, there shouldn’t be a deep discussion about what you’re offering. Simply provide them with insights that add value to them (for instance, what would help them do their job better).
If you apply and repeat this prospecting system, people will start to come back to you. This is how you bust one of these prospecting myths.
McDonald reminded that sellers should always keep their endgame in mind: their conversations with the buyer should move towards where their offers fit in. It’s critical that they are able to blend in their own products and services with the insights they’ve shared.
Capture the buyer’s interest with your insights, then subtly move the conversation towards the point where your offers are part of the conversation.
Through this process, you’re giving the buyer the opportunity to say, “Yes, I understand the problem you showed me, and I can see how you’re going to help me solve that.” This is the moment when you’re able to convert the buyer into your internal advocate and make them your internal salesperson.
Your buyers may already know what you have to offer. What they want to learn is how you can help them.
Sellers should be able to determine when the proper time is to bring up their offer into the conversation.
Prospecting Myth #4: Cold Meetings Won’t Convert Into Sales Wins
The fourth myth is that you can’t convert cold meetings into sales wins. RAIN Group’s study was able to disprove this.
In their research, they found that if buyers see value in what you bring, they will be more open to meet with you. In turn, you can convert those initial meetings into sales wins.
Starting out with cold meetings doesn’t mean it’s not going to go anywhere. RAIN Group saw in their study that sellers can convert that cold start into a sales win.
Prospecting Myth #5: It Is Difficult To Add Value To Buyer Meetings
The last myth is that it’s difficult to add value to your meetings with buyers. Smith shared that there are some methods you can apply to make your buyer meetings more valuable.
They learned that 58% of buyers’ meetings with sellers were not valuable. That means that in 6 out of 10 times of meeting with sellers, buyers don’t get any value.
One strategy you can apply to mitigate that is to think about the buyer meeting as a way to educate them on new ideas. You can provide an insight or a new perspective with each meeting.
In this way, the buyer will gain a better and deeper understanding of their needs after meeting with you, which is how you can bring value to them.
As Smith said, doing that and doing it well drastically increases the conversion of cold meetings to opportunities.
He added that sales prospecting works—it is a viable strategy and it can positively impact your sales pipeline if you do it well.
Organizations should think through their message and outreach strategy. If they execute those well, prospecting can be a huge source of new clients and new revenue.
If you want to learn more about this study, you can reach out to Gord Smith and Dan McDonald through the RAIN Group website.
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RAIN Group’s study on prospecting busted popular myths that most sellers may have believed in. Now that you can distinguish these five prospecting myths, you can concentrate on doing what works.
Apply the insights you learned and start gaining more sales wins!
With the knowledge of the five prospecting myths, how can you improve your own prospecting strategy? Share your ideas with us in the comments section below!
Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode: