I’ve been involved in a number of discussions on prospecting recently. One sales exec complaining to me when I suggested he and his people needed to be prospecting. His response was, “Marketing has the responsibility for generating and giving us high quality leads.” When I asked, “Are you getting enough to make your numbers,” from the look on his face, I knew he wasn’t, but I also knew he wouldn’t listen to me–he was firmly entrenched in his position. (Needless to say, I didn’t get that project, but suspect I will in a few months with his successor, the CEO was on the phone as well).
In another, I saw a tweet, “When are people going to realize that publishing content is the new prospecting….” My thought was “Well, yes…. but…. what happens when that doesn’t generate enough?” I tried to engage in a twitter discussion, it seemed it was headed down a social selling path.
I constantly run into people who want to find the miracle cure for prospecting (or actually to avoid prospecting), again the current fads seem to be social is all we need, everything can be solve with content, or others that say “not my job.”
Somehow, my comprehension level may not be what it should be, but I struggle to understand a lot of what’s going on. I tend to think it needs to be no more difficult than “Prospecting is the new prospecting.” Fundamentally, things haven’t changed in a long time.
We know marketing is supposed to be generating leads, but what if they don’t develop enough? We still have to find enough opportunity to fill our funnels.
We know marketing is supposed to be generating quality leads, even if they are generating enough, we still have a certain amount of prospecting and qualifying to do with the lead. Depending on how they define MQL/SQL, the phone call a sales person makes may be the first verbal communication we have with the customer and it is a prospecting call.
We know social is very powerful, but what if our customers aren’t social? A not so surprising number of senior executives may have a nominal social presence(e.g. a LinkedIn profile and a Facebook account), but their social activity is virtually non existent. But social can be very powerful if that’s where our customers hang out.
Or even if your customers are hanging out on social, what if you aren’t getting enough qualifies prospects through your social prospecting?
We know, at least research shows us, multichannel prospecting strategies are the most effective. So social, combined with email, combined with phones, and so forth is very more effective. But we’ve know this since before “social” existed. The literature from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s all spoke to multichannel, multi impression as being key to driving awareness, interest, leads, and prospects.
We know that we have a lot of tools available to us, and we probably should be leveraging as many as we can–social, email, voice, trade shows, webinar, “smoke stack hunting,” conferences, networking events, referrals, direct mail, advertising, websites, mobile, SEO, and others. This is not new, we know effective prospecting can seldom be limited to just one channel.
We know we have to have something meaningful and relevant in each communication, regardless of the channel. I guess that’s what we call content. Sometimes the most impactful content is the highly customized and personalized discussion we have face to face, over the phone with a prospect.
We know the balance between the tools and channels we leverage is always dynamic, at a particular time, a few channels may have heavier investments than others. At another time, other channels take higher priorities.
We know that new channels and technologies arise, they may displace others.
We know we can use tools to refine and better target our prospecting efforts. Or leveraging certain events better target our prospecting efforts.
Finally, we know that sales people don’t like prospecting. Prospecting does not come naturally or easily to us. We struggle with who do we see, what do we say, how to we get them to respond. We struggle with the fact we probably get far more “No’s,” a few, “Hell No’s,” than “Tell me more’s.” So prospecting is not easy. But if we don’t do it, eventually our pipelines go dry.
All this was true last year, 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 100 years ago…….
But, somehow the fundamentals never change. We have to find and qualify enough prospects to fill our funnels. We are most effective in leveraging multiple channels and tools simultaneously. And we can never stop.
So it seems to me, once you strip away all the fancy words, Prospecting Is The New Prospecting.
Am I missing something?