Prospecting Is A Different Game



Sales is fun. At least I hope it is for you if you are in sales. No doubt that it can often be deflating and aggravating and stressful. For those of us that have chosen sales as our calling though, there is no better career to pursue.

The one wrinkle in our love of sales though is prospecting. We all had to prospect at some point in our careers. Even for the most senior and experiences of sales professionals, effective prospecting is still a critical component of their success. But no one loves prospecting (ok, maybe a few, but those are clearly exceptions). What is it about prospecting that makes it so painful?

Our natural human inclination is to avoid pain of any sort. It is evolutionary and helped us get through the rough parts of our early existence as a species. We are acutely aware of danger and risk, which tells us to flee and take cover almost automatically. Before any of our other higher level cerebral functions kick in, it is our danger receptors that move us to act.

That is exactly what goes on in the mind of someone that is prospecting. The nature of prospecting is such that you are getting lots of “No” or worse. Rejection rates are high, even for the most effective sales reps using highly vetted and targeted lead lists. And rejection triggers the very same mental and physical processes that make us want to avoid danger and pain.

Once you get past prospecting and get a few prospects willing to engage, it is clear sailing. There is plenty of advice and blogs and books and seminars that one can attend to handle the rest of the sales process. When it comes to prospecting, however, the resources have been few and far between -and often wrong. Prospecting is a different game and goes by a different set of rules.

Now that we are in the era of sales specialization, prospecting has been given a higher pedestal and level of attention. Ever since the release of Aaron Ross’s book Predictable Revenue, established tech companies and startups have been following the Sales Development playbook. And what was the core lesson? Any effective sales organization must have a separate group that is dedicated to outbound lead generation to contact, qualify, and promote leads to the account executive team to close.

That leads to an interesting question. If prospecting is one of the toughest aspects of sales and we are now creating teams that are just dedicated to prospecting, are we not setting up these sales reps for failure? And what impact does that have on the rest of the sales organization?

Don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe sales specialization and dedicated prospecting teams is the way forward for sales organizations across any industry. I also see it becoming a critical aspect of sales operations within enterprise companies. Because of the Enterprise Sales Meetup, I have been fielding a lot of questions about the prospecting side of sales and how to improve it. However, I believe prospecting is truly different enough to warrant its own forum and community.

This is why I formed the Sales Development Meetup with a few experienced Sales Development Managers. The idea behind the Sales Development Meetup is similar to the Enterprise Sales Meetup, but super targeted on strategies and tactics important for the Sales Development Rep as well as Managers. The goal is for this group to be a community and a resource for SDR’s and SDR Managers on developing the best practices to further the art and science of prospecting.




Reprinted by permission.

Image credit: CC by Phillippe Put

About the author: Mark Birch

Mark is an early stage technology investor and entrepreneur based in NYC. Through Birch Ventures, he works with a portfolio of early stage B2B SaaS technology startups providing both capital and guidance in the areas of marketing, sales, strategic planning and funding.

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