When our salespeople are proactively prospecting their activities fall somewhere in the “effective/comfortable” matrix.
Their proactive prospecting activities are either:
- Uncomfortable and ineffective
- Comfortable and ineffective
- Uncomfortable and effective
- Comfortable and effective
“Effective” meaning that that activity is effective at creating unique conversations with decision makers, which lead to opportunities added to the top of the funnel.
History tells us that often salespeople trend towards “comfortable and ineffective” because they get to look busy and tell their manager “look at all the stuff I’m doing.” Often activities in “comfortable and ineffective” are blasting out emails begging for appointments or calling on prospects who will always take a call, but never commit to even a meeting much less doing business. They will also spend some time in the “comfortable and effective” category because all of us have certain prospecting activities with which we are comfortable, and they turn out to be effective.
In the experience of our clients the most sustainable prospecting success, that which leads to real qualified opportunities consistently filling the top of the funnel, lies in the “uncomfortable and effective” category. These are usually one-to-one prospecting activities like prospecting calls, social selling or walk-ins. The specific activity depends on our industry. Doing walk-ins when selling to restaurants (pre-COVID) might be uncomfortable yet highly effective, but doing walk-ins selling Enterprise Resource Planning software to Fortune 500 companies is likely to be both uncomfortable and ineffective.
To get a sense of where our salespeople are spending their time, map out their proactive prospecting activities for the month on this matrix. In doing this exercise we may discover activities that were previously effective, trade shows is a pre-COVID example, have slipped into the “comfortable and ineffective” category.
As the Sandler Rule goes, we manage individuals and lead a team. Armed with data from each salesperson’s activity plan we can support them to move their proactive prospecting into the “effective” zone, whether comfortable or uncomfortable.
For “comfortable and effective” activities our role is ensuring that the activity stays effective by practicing with our salesperson to ensure they are doing that activity the right way instead of the most comfortable way (e.g. asking for introductions).
For “uncomfortable and effective” activities our role is to increase our salesperson’s comfort with the activity by practicing with them. One of the most effective ways the leaders we work with use to do that is to practice with the leader playing salesperson first. After running the role play once they debrief and ask their salesperson “how would you say what I just said?” Then the leader plays salesperson again using their salesperson’s words. When they debrief the second time their salespeople say “that sounded good” which is code for “that sounds more like me.” When we’re learning to do something that’s uncomfortable the more we can see/hear ourselves doing the activity the more likely we are to actually do it.
When we make reviewing the “effective/comfortable” matrix and adjusting our salespeople’s activities a regular part of our management activities we get more time back in our week and have more certainty that our funnel will stay full.
Until next time… go lead.