After reading Jeb Blount’s Fanatical Prospecting, I offered to buy a copy for my entire sales team. 80 people total. Yes, the book is full of valuable, real world best practices, but that’s not what got under my skin. It was the fanatical prospector mindset.
Most sales professionals work just one channel month in and month out, striving to hit their numbers. They fight their battles on just one front. Some work only inbound leads, others are hard-charging, cold call specialists. Some sales people are content to work on just referral leads with warm introductions.
The fanatical prospector sales consultant, is a universal soldier. She fights for sales on all fronts. Any and every lead source available to her is worked giving her more volume, more consistency and ultimately, more sales. She is not content putting her fate in a single channel. She diversifies, spreads the field and attacks. She is not satisfied limiting her skills to leads in any one area because she knows customers can and do come from everywhere.
Not only does the universal soldier prospect with a plan, she prospects with a purpose. She’s not simply going through the motions to hit activity metrics. She has a connect cadence and works her leads to maximum efficiency. Below is how I have seen the universal soldier sales consultant operate effectively to build consistent and reliable pipeline.
Priority One: Inbound
The universal soldier works inbound leads first. It may seem obvious, but there is logic behind this decision. She knows that inbound leads coming to her have low prospecting time investment and are often high quality, sales ready opportunities. The leads who start the conversation with her, either requesting a call or simply downloading an e-book or whitepaper, will typically move faster through their decision-making process, as they have already started to educate themselves and are aware of the company. She picks the low-hanging fruit first before climbing higher in the tree.
Also, the quality of an inbound lead depletes quickly. The universal soldier sales consultant knows that immediate prioritization is a must for maximizing win rate. Especially, as data indicates, this fruit is not just low hanging, but highly perishable. Whatever triggered the inbound conversion is top of mind for the prospective customer and the universal soldier is going to connect today, to what that is before the trigger thought evaporates.
Priority Two: Referrals
Referral leads are the highest win rates in virtually every business. When generated systematically, the universal soldier takes little extra work to get a huge advantage in pipeline stability and richness. She knows has already put in the work needed to effectively ask for a referral from a prospect or client and she is not going to leave that social credit unspent.
Again, she has a plan in the form of a pre-defined referral asking process. When prospects buy, she immediately capitalizes on the good will and positive outlook of the new relationship while it’s in the air. The honeymoon phase. Not stopping there, she maintains contact with her clients with light, but regular touches by phone or email or sometimes physical mail to continuously stay present with her client base. When she presents value and the prospect derives value from the conversation, but does not buy, she asks for and often gets a referral, yielding a ROI for her time even from the closed lost deals.
Priority Three: Outbound
Building an outbound channel of targeted, high-value prospects is hard, time-consuming, takes a thoughtful skillset and, as the fanatical prospector knows, is critical for having the most-well rounded, consistent and diverse pipeline. Companies will often assign a team for just outbound as the skills for success and efficiency are so special, but the universal soldier refuses to sit on the sidelines. When marketing is not feeding her with hot leads and her referrals prospects are caught up with for now she goes after more.
The universal soldier knows what a target client looks like. She’s done her homework and knows how to use phone, e-mail and social media to open up new conversations from zero. Most importantly, she knows, unwaveringly, that the targeted prospect will benefit from the value she will deliver. Talking about their situation, potential problems, hazards, opportunities, solutions and benefits for changing the status quo is right for them and they should listen. It’s a mindset of confidence and positive empathy and it is the universal soldier’s secret weapon in building a rich, multi-channel pipeline from even the most hard to open deals.
Priority Four: Old Ops
A fanatical prospector does not waste time trying to resuscitate dead deals. She knows her time is valuable and better spent with fresh inbound, outbound and referral leads. But she also knows when a deal should be put on ice temporarily for a future win. Not dead, but unconscious. Certain good-fit, high-value clients that are qualified for more work, are never entirely let go. Like Sun Tzu, the universal soldier ales consultant has a battle plan telling her when when to fight, when to flee and when to regroup and come back later.
Targeted opportunities that get stuck, but are potentially winnable down the road are tagged, separated like gold from the mountain of low-win potential time-wasters and nurtured appropriately. Regular touches, usually through email or the occasional call are scheduled methodically at critical times when contracts are scheduled to finish or new budgets being built. This allows the universal soldier to yield value from her past work and keep a high-value pipeline, without destroying her efficiency. She knows that these opportunities are last on her priority list, but when nothing else is available she does not sit around and wait for the phone to ring.
Yes, effective prospecting has its processes and procedures, but most critical to this skill is the mindset. The universal soldier sales consultant does not rest. Some actions are more efficient than others, but no action = zero efficiency. She’s never at zero. She knows there is always another potential client out there she should be talking to right now. There is always a next call, next lead, next conversation to be had. She takes her future in her own hands and is always charging forward.