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Cold calling and stupid prospecting don't work.

Byline: Joanne Black

Bluebirds are great, aren't they? A prospect is ready to buy and reaches out to you, and you close the deal with little effort. It's a lucky break, a win/win. But it's not a reliable lead generation strategy, because you didn't initiate prospecting.

Too many salespeople now rely on incoming requests and outgoing emails to grab prospects' attention. Sales reps send stupid messages to strangers on social media, requesting 10 minutes of their time or asking if they're even the right person to be contacting. When they're met with radio silence, these reps follow up, asking if prospects received their previous messages and emails.

That's not prospecting; that's cold calling -- the most ineffective and annoying way for salespeople to work.

Thankfully, there is a much better way: relationship-building and referral selling.

Are you barking up the wrong tree?

Rather than waiting for prospects to be ready to buy, or bugging them with requests when they haven't asked for help, salespeople are much more likely to close deals if they focus on showing prospects why they need help. Those valuable conversations are how we build relationships, establish trust, demonstrate expertise and actually sell.

Sales thought leader Keenan -- CEO of A Sales Guy -- speaks about the importance of demonstrating value and building relationships in his video, "The Mental Place You Need to Get Your Prospect If You Want to Win the Sale."

As he puts it, "Our No. 1 job as salespeople is to get the customer to let you help them ... if you can't get your prospect to be vulnerable, to open up and say, 'Hey, you know what? I need some help and I think you can help me. Let's go on this journey together,' nothing is going to happen."

Getting a foot in the door

Of course, you can't convince prospects they need your help if you can't get them to sit down and talk to you in the first place. But with referral selling, salespeople not only get meetings without cold calling; they also get to prospects before they know they have a need.

When reps receive referral introductions from people prospects know and trust, they have immediately earned the right to have a conversation and begin a relationship. They learn about the prospect's business -- what's working, what's not. They have the opportunity to uncover challenges, provide insights, share ideas and determine next steps. Prospects understand they need help, and they're ready to buy.

Yes, sales reps should catch those bluebirds whenever they come around -- and be thankful for the easy sell. But bluebirds are rare, and when it comes to prospecting, I only count on what I bring about.

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Publication:National Underwriter Life & Health Breaking News
Date:Nov 30, 2016
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