It was the mid-90s in Washington, D.C., and I was a rookie stockbroker at Merrill Lynch. I was your typical rookie — making hundreds of dials a day from copied pages out of the phone book.
I did a good job of setting appointments with prospective clients. There was just one problem: I kept setting them up at the prospect’s house. I figured if they trusted me to come into their home, they would trust me with their money.
Because I was young and had no money, I was driving an old, beat-up Datsun with questionable AC. In the summer.
While I may have gotten some pity for being a soaking wet, sweaty fool, I did not instill confidence in prospects their money would be safe.
I did this all summer, not once realizing the business I was bringing in was due to the prospect coming into my office. When the client came to me, it was in my environment — they were giving a buying signal by making a commitment to come in. If I went to them, they only had to hear my pitch, and give me a glass of water.
Driving to my prospects’ houses was hugely inefficient — and didn’t give me an accurate sense of their interest. To get better results, I needed to change my approach. Here are the top three selling time-wasters I’ve discovered.
1) Going to your prospects
This used to be part and parcel of old-school sales, since communication with prospects was limited to the phone, direct mail, and face-to-face meetings. Travel time, traffic, gas, tolls, delays and an audience that can afford to tune you out all add up to reduced ROI. Anyone ever book a flight, land and then find out the prospect (maybe even a highly qualified one) cancelled?
The solution: Make them come to you. Ask prospects to visit your office — this shows commitment and a higher level of buying signal. If you sell software, you can accomplish the same effect by signing them up for a demo or trial. They’re more likely to buy if they’ve invested time and energy into researching and testing your product.
2) Smiling and dialing with no targets
Ready. Fire! Aim. That’s what spray and pray prospecting looks like. Randomly calling names off of an unqualified list is a total time suck. When you’re required to make a certain number of dials, targeting goes out the window.
The solution: Pursue qualified prospects. My friend Mike Weinberg, in his book “New Sales, Simplified,” lists targeting clients as the first step in an effective prospecting plan. He says your target list must be Finite, Focused, Written and Workable. Ask yourself “who” and “why” questions to help identify targets when building a list. Asking these questions will help you create targets that fit the profile of your best customers.
3) Not using a CRM
If you’re still writing in your Franklin Planner, checking off handwritten lists to compile your daily prospecting totals, and writing notes that get lost in the pile on your desk, you are wasting time. How much time is spent manually entering data on paper notes that could be spent prospecting?
The solution: Leverage a CRM. With a CRM, every call, email, interaction, and data point is automatically recorded and optimized for the most leverage. Your prospecting time has just been increased because all of the necessary info you need for your targeted prospects and your interaction with them has been saved and stored and analyzed in your CRM.
Your CRM can be set to manage your communication’s cadence and medium. Engage your prospects where they want to be engaged – whether that’s by phone, email, text, or social.
I wasted a lot of time as a young salesman. I had no plan and chased down every lead with no clue if they were worth the effort. I made little use of the tools I had at my disposal.
Today, we have analytics, content, automation, demos, CRM, and more that let us maximize our productivity, sales, and commissions.
Don’t be a sweaty fool: Be a pro.