Today's post is by Jose Palomino, CEO of Spyglass Selling.
You already know how difficult it is to consistently meet – let alone, exceed – your goals if your sales team struggles to identify and win new business. Sure, you can sometimes make your numbers by relying solely on your largest accounts, but that’s not a strategy for winning over the long term.
To improve outcomes, you simply must cultivate the prospecting mindset of your sales team. While this can be challenging, you can do it once you understand exactly what this mindset is – and whether your sales team has one.
The Prospecting Mindset
The prospecting mindset is one of seven key characteristics of top-performing sales teams. The others are negotiating, product knowledge, sales acumen, account management, business acumen, and marketplace awareness. All of these are leading indicators that your team is thinking the right way to drive sales success.
Simply put, the prospecting mindset is an attitude that leads sales professionals to always look for their next opportunity. You might expect them to do this naturally. After all, prospecting is a basic component of the sales process. But, in reality, many don’t prospect in a way that builds a healthy pipeline.
One reason is that salespeople, like other professionals, can get comfortable. They may fall into calling the same list of prospects and visiting the same group of customers. Following these paths, they pick up incremental revenue and may even hit their numbers. But, at the end of the day, they’re coasting to a degree – and that won’t drive meaningful growth for your company.
This is why top sales teams are set apart by their commitment to prospecting. They have a passion for seeking fresh opportunities, and not only by being constantly on the lookout for new prospects. Those who stay closely attuned to their current customers’ needs and interests – for example, recognizing when clients face a new problem that your products can solve – are using their prospecting mindset to maintain a situational awareness that makes them more effective at identifying and targeting opportunities.
While traditional benchmarks – the percentage of new opportunities compared to existing ones, for instance – measure prospecting success, they don’t identify the presence of the prospecting mindset.
Five Prospecting Questions for Your Sales Team
To do that, you have to ask each member of your team these five questions.
- Do they intuitively ask for referrals?
- Are they actively and strategically hunting for next-level sales opportunities? For example, do they identify new markets by region, industry, or type of business?
- Do they attend conferences with the idea of intentionally meeting new people?
- Do they take initiative and look for opportunities on their own, or do they rely on your company’s lead generation?
- Are they aware of other buying centers within their customer accounts? Maybe they’ve got Operations locked up. So, what about Logistics? Or HR? Or Finance?
If you answer “no” to any of these questions, it’s likely that your team lacks a prospecting mindset. It’s up to you to change that.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. Anyone experienced in sales knows that incentives impact the sales culture. However, changing your compensation plan to better reward new opportunities is a long-term proposition. In the short term, though, offering some immediate rewards (money, iPads, vacations) for key net-new wins would send a strong signal that such opportunities are a priority. Better yet, just highlighting these key new wins with high praise in a public setting might be the best way to start building this mindset with your team.
By calling attention to and rewarding behaviors that reflect the prospecting mindset, you’ll develop a culture that’s better designed to consistently meet – or exceed – your group’s sales goals.