The Death and Rebirth of Sales Prospecting



That’s the average number of unsolicited cold prospecting touches (emails, texts, phone calls, and letters) my focus group of 7 key business decision makers say they receive in a typical week.  That’s more than 10 a day and when I asked these decision makers if they ever follow-up on the unsolicited prospecting touches the answer was not unexpected, 0. Not one of the 7 professionals in my focus groups said they saw any value in the prospecting reach outs and wouldn’t waste even 2 seconds reviewing it because they all instantly knew it wasn’t for them.  Here are a few comments from the focus group that should sound familiar as we’ve all experienced this:

  • “The emails I get are ridiculous. These people just throw together some jargon like ‘digital disruption’ and think I will be interested.”
  • “They don’t have a clue. It’s all a numbers game and if they send out 100,000 emails maybe one sucker will open it and then get pounced on.”
  • “I know I shouldn’t be amazed, but I am every day around the lack of common sense put into the selling process these days. These people, whoever they are, don’t understand the fundamentals of selling. They are arrogant and stupid at the same time.

I think we all know a bad sales prospecting outreach when we see it and based on my work with dozens of clients developing new and impactful ways of creating strategic business selling approaches, I believe the old way of mass-market vomiting a bunch of words prospecting is dead.  Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone has informed the Marketers and Sales people in the world because the volume of horrible prospecting is increasing and becoming even less effective.

So, what’s the solution? Is there a solution?

This week, I am in the process of delivering a customized strategic business selling program for one of our clients and I’ve taken a couple of the key points of our business simulation-based training workshop to share as part of this blog.  Here are three key elements that must be included in the sales prospecting approach in 2018 and beyond:

Know the customer’s business

Any and all prospecting efforts must illustrate that you know the customer’s business.  You need to demonstrate a knowledge of their strategy, goals, financial metrics, objectives, challenges, opportunities, and most of all status of their current state.  Every sales person should be grounded in a core foundation of business acumen skills to better understand the systems of your customer’s business. This is a must have, not a nice to have, 

The reason for this is that if you are selling something, there must be a direct or implicit need.  The only way to establish the need is to discover where the strategic and performance gaps are.  Most sales professionals in “prospecting mode” don’t include this critical step and automatically default to “product pushing” and not messaging potential solutions.


Know your own business

It is inexcusable not to understand your own products and services and more importantly the value they bring to your customers in business terms (not just the features or competitive differentiators).  The prospecting message should include some clear and effective sharing of how your product/service solves customers challenges and how your solutions impact your customer’s business performance.  Without this information, you have a significantly reduced chance of capturing a prospect’s attention.

Have a point of view

I believe very strongly in the idea that “Business people buy from business people, not just sales people.”  One of the best ways of making your prospecting message different is to have a point of view.  Ideally, that point of view should be tied to the strategy of your company and the value proposition of your product.  For example, if you are selling a consumer good called “Bright,” and “Bright” is the most innovative, highest quality product in the market, then the prospecting message should have a point of view about how the innovation and high quality can help solve challenges better than anything else and that you’ve personally tested it and can share examples of success stories.

In summary, your prospect is smarter than you think and will only respond if a business-based value proposition is clearly defined and understood within a few seconds.  If you are in prospecting mode, take a few moments to review and assess to see if you can apply any of the 3 suggestions I have presented.


Robert Brodo

About The Author

Robert Brodo is co-founder of Advantexe. He has more than 20 years of training and business simulation experience.