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Most salespeople are having fewer prospect interactions even if they’ve increased their overall proactive prospecting efforts. While they are earning compound interest, to quote David Sandler’s rule, they are also having more opportunities to go offside when they do have a real business conversation with a prospect.

Sounds counter intuitive, but the reasons relate directly back to full funnel freedom. When our funnel is full we are more likely to approach prospects as equals with a “qualify by attempting to disqualify” mindset versus a “OMG, if I don’t do everything my prospect says I’ll never close another piece of business and get fired” story bouncing around our head.

Now, due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, most salespeople find themselves with a funnel that is slimmer than usual.

As sales leaders, supporting our salespeople during these temporary interesting times doesn’t mean putting on our cape, that only creates learned helplessness. Instead we can give our salespeople the potency to not go offside by:

  • Coaching commitment to “process” not “outcome” – an outcome-oriented salesperson will sound pushy and aggressive to their prospect no matter how gently they might feel they are in their approach. A process-oriented salesperson will focus on gathering data from their prospect (conversationally) because they can’t work their process without their prospect’s data.
  • Practicing responses to “not now, “send me some info” and other stalls our prospect’s pull out during times of change – this prevents our salespeople from feeling like they have to justify or defend when interacting with their prospects, which is a losing gambit.
  • Adapting or adjusting our “ideal” sale – the doors that may have opened for our salespeople as recently as February might have turned into brick walls on which they are now ramming their heads. Step back, gather information about who is buying your product or service and narrow your salespeople’s focus on that audience. This will free up mental space that is otherwise being consumed with negative stories.
  • “Field” support visits – either observing or co-selling with our salespeople, not running the meeting because that kills their credibility, gives our salesperson a stroke and gives us valuable insight for coaching and best practice sharing with our other salespeople.
  • Recording our proactive prospecting and sharing with our team – vulnerability is one of a leader’s greatest strengths so in a time when “we’re in this together” is a rallying cry for many organizations, getting out in the field (virtually), recording our prospecting attempts and sharing with our team allows us to model the behavior we expect and gives our salespeople a chance to say to themselves, “well if my leader can do it, I can” and/or “I bet I could do it better than them.” If a little vulnerability on our part prompts our salespeople to do, or to more of, the proactive activities necessary to succeed then it’s probably worth picking up the phone.

David Sandler said “if your behaviors (proactive activities) are consistent your results will be consistent. If your behaviors are erratic your results will be erratic.” It’s tempting to fall into the second part of that statement, especially when our salespeople are hearing “no” way more than they usually do.

By consistently doing the five behaviors with our salespeople we will create more consistently in them and more consistently in our results both now and when things turn.

Until next time… go lead.

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