Prospecting Avoidance

Professional salespeople know when they wake in the morning they have to do the one thing that is sure to guarantee an income:

Prospect for new business.

In a way, salespeople begin everyday looking for a new “job”, don’t they? Because without a new client to purchase what they’re selling, how is there any any hope of a paycheck in the future? Even if that salesperson is a salaried professional, without showing results for their employer, there’s no guarantee the employer will continue to employ that salesperson.

I think therefore, we can agree that a professional salesperson, whether commissioned or salaried, knows that prospecting for new business is the number one priority for their days, each and every day.

That’s not to say they all follow through on the actions necessary to prospect. “Prospecting avoidance” is a commonly understood malady in the sales profession. Sales Managers everywhere constantly harangue their sales teams to hit the pavements, ring the doorbells, make the calls, set the appointments, to fulfill the promise of prospecting.

Avoidance of prospecting comes out of the simple psychological fear of rejection. We all have it. Besides, as simple as prospecting can often turn out to be when you actually do it, it can also be as difficult to initiate.

It’s no wonder then that business owners who are NOT professional salespeople may suffer from this very disease of prospecting avoidance. The creative excuses people come up with to avoid having to make prospecting calls are legendary. Yet, as the owner of your business, unless you have a professional salesperson or sales team working for you, you must must, must, Prospect for new business.
The only way to overcome your avoidance of your emotional pain about Prospecting is to simply attach a level of importance to this task.

We hear so often from Business Owners of being distracted with other important tasks: making payroll; attending to a malfunctioning machine on the shop floor; taking a call from the accountant/attorney/spouse/pesky customer/excellent customer/number one account/printer/fleet mechanic and on and on and on.

The Business Owner has attached a level of importance to each and every one of these tasks. Attach that same level of importance to Prospecting. You must. Absolutely must. Your business health, wealth and survival depends on you doing so.

Once you make Prospecting as important an activity as any other in running your business, all those other avoidance afflictions melt away into nothing. Fear of rejection disappears. Procrastination towards your Prospecting Plan converts to an optimistic sense of urgency.

And, yes, you may even like Prospecting.

The ROI of Doing Nothing

Often, when a business-owner invests in marketing, they want to know when they will see a return on investment. It should be a question and a concern; it would be cavalier to dismiss otherwise.

However, when a business-owner finally realizes that marketing is key to new business development, some think that results rapidly occur. It doesn’t work that way.

Besides considering the cost of marketing, the time before profit is realized remains uncertain. In my experience of running a business and investing in marketing, a person skilled in sales considers budget, cost and equally as important, the confidence that the potential solution could be a cure to stagnation.

It’s hard to quantify the loss of income when nothing is being done to attract new business. It’s not unusual that, sometimes, we spend a lot of time rationalizing not investing a few dollar to make more dollars.

Did you ever go to a networking event, meet people, get business cards and never follow up? It happens! We spend money to attend the event, gas for the car and lose quality time with family and/or personal endeavors. The ROI of dong nothing equals nothing.

As a licensed insurance person, it would be tough to write insurance if I thought “that person doesn’t need insurance” especially when they have insurance because I know they own a car, a home, and a business. 

Do you like tea? If you do, you know that when you make tea, you don’t drink it immediately after pouring the hot water into the tea cup. You have to wait for the tea to steep so it maximizes the ingredients and flavor of the tea; otherwise it’s just hot water.

Marketing is like tea. it takes time. Besides needing money to invest in marketing, we need patience to develop a reputation. You know what costs money? A reduction in new business while overhead continues to increase.

Don’t be cheap, steep! Then, enjoy one sip at a time. 

Prospecting: TR(Y)AL & (T)ERROR

I’m a broken record when it comes to new business development.

Unless your business never (and I mean never ever) has clients that retire, relocate, downsize or die, you must consider new business development strategies, aka PROSPECTING.

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word “prospecting”?

Networking, maybe?

Cold calling? Did you just shudder and break out in a sweat? I don’t blame you. 

Did you know that dictionary.com defines prospecting as:

    • to search or explore (a region), as for gold.
    • to work (a mine or claim) experimentally in order to test its value.

That’s pretty cool even though I know that they are not distinguishing the word in a sales capacity.

Sales & Marketing gets a bad wrap, and prospecting, to me, is the gritty way to say new business development. 

Most people DO NOT have the same reaction (shudder and sweat) when you discuss customer service. Some people think it’s “safe”. We get to respond to clients who are looking for us to help them. Makes sense.

I don’t want to be a party pooper, but customer service involves its own form of prospecting. Every interaction with a client is an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise, solve a problem and….wait for it…remind them why they do business with us. 

Not so fast. That’s the easy part. 

The hard part is not letting them off the hook (literally and figuratively) once you managed the task at hand. Taking a few minutes to ask them for feedback on how you’re doing and reminding them what else you do in your business, gives them a reason to think about why else they need to hire you.

It’s harder than it sounds. In the insurance world, we call that “account rounding” and “cross-selling”.

Without getting too dense, if you’re not getting uncomfortable with how to find new clients, you are not growing. It may not seem like it now, but there will come a time when a shift will happen. The key is, either doing it voluntarily and proactively or reacting to circumstances beyond your control out of desperation. 

Sometimes, having a dedicated person to help with sales and marketing, prospecting and new business development is a luxury and a focused disciplined. Other times, developing a culture where everyone in your office pitches in, is how will you will not be the best kept secret.

Reflections through the Drive-Thru Car Wash

SPRING is finally here, sort of! This past week marked my regularly-scheduled, yet overdue, visit to the car wash to rinse the winter grit and grime from my car, especially since the four recent and overwhelming Nor’easters delayed a much needed bath.

I drove to the drive-thru car wash, although a more thorough cleaning was necessary; this was a decent option in he meantime given how my visit was grossly overdue.

I put the car in neutral and onto the rails we went. i had a few minutes of quiet time to myself as we floated into the tunnel. This is where I decided that marketing could be a bit like a drive-thru car wash due to the different stations and variety of wash methods Sally and I were about to go through.

On average, a typical car wash facility has multiple stations:
• Pre-soak
• Mitter curtain
• Rinse arch
• Foam applicator
• Scrubbers
• High-pressure washer
• Undercarriage wash applicator
• Rinse arch
• Wax applicator
• Mitter curtain
• Scrubbers
• Rinse arch
• Dryer

As you can see, a couple of the stations repeat themselves. This isn’t surprising is it? This is no different for marketing.

There are various marketing activities that help with your efforts to achieve fruitful business development results depending on your budget, time and tools. Yes, it can be overwhelming, but you know there is light at the end of the “tunnel”. Let’s take a look at my quick journey through the wash tunnel and how it relates to marketing.

Car Wash:
First, a couple of guys doused Sally’s exterior with a power wash blast to prepare for the pre-soak phase. While the bay and various machines were about to swallow Sally whole, there were still humans tending to Sally’s curves and contours to ensure stubborn debris would be managed.

Marketing:
This is similar to initially hiring a marketing consultant who prepares you and your business with a “down and dirty” approach to produce a polished marketing strategy that suits the goals of your business.

Car Wash:
Then, you enter the mitter curtain. These sud-soaked fettuccine strips jounced the front hood and windshield with a head-on lather. The lengthy sponges slowly made it’s way to the top of the car and proceeded it’s rhythmic cleansing towards the back of the car.

Marketing:
This reminded me of the strategy soaked discussions a business-owner would entertain with an overall review of the myriad of marketing techniques and tactics available.

What are these myriad of marketing efforts?
• Referrals
• Existing clients – cross-selling, up-selling, account rounding
• Cold calling – yup, everyone hates it, but it’s on the list because it works.
• Strategic alliances – who compliments your business that needs your services for their clients?
• In-person Networking
• Social media
• Email Marketing
• Content marketing (webinars, podcasts, press releases)
• Internet marketing (Search engine Optimization – SEO)
• Community service (Volunteering, Boards of Directors)
• Direct mail
• Advertising

Back to the Car Wash:
Next, the scrubbers. These tall, rotating brushes glossed over the sides of Sally to remove loose debris and film from the power washing.

Marketing:
This is where you scrub what activities you think work best for you and for your business. You also want consider what activities you should handle and what could you delegate to another member of the team.

Car Wash:
The rinse arch followed. The spraying showers washed away the soapy suds.

Marketing:
It’s a time to “come clean” with focusing on what works and more importantly what doesn’t. This is your moment of reflection to understand what marketing activities you could be doing and perhaps have fun while doing it.
Finally, I enjoyed the high-powered heating vents that finished the cleaning process by blow drying Sally to remove blotches from soapy residue and streaks from spraying water.

This is the time to celebrate. Who doesn’t enjoy the refreshing feel of success when recommendations have been considered from a trusted marketing consultant. While this car wash journey was a mere five minutes of my time, it’s a start and a little bit of motivation to remember how she shines in the sun.

Cleaning any vehicle is a process and requires maintenance. So does marketing.

Start the process, embrace the progress. You know you need to do it, and you know a positive outcome is likely.

Your business is an adventure. Enjoy the ride…even if it’s for a five minutes of quiet through the car wash.