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This article was last updated Sept. 12, 2022.
One of the most commonly asked questions I get is, “How much of my time should I spend prospecting?” Well, the answer is different for everyone — but also the same. Without customers, you have no business. So, if you want more customers, you need to spend more time prospecting.
In today’s world, there are a lot of opinions and ideas about what prospecting looks like, the methods that work, the frequency, etc. I have been in sales for more than three decades, and over that time, prospecting and sales has changed very little.
If you listen to Zig Ziglar from the ’80s, Jim Rohn from the ’90s or Chet Holmes from the 2000s, you quickly realize the business is the same. You prospect to find suspects, identify a need they have to make them a prospect, solve the need to make them a customer and sell them the solution to make them a client. It always starts with the same first step — prospecting.
There are lots of statistics out there, but the most trusted sources report that it takes six to eight attempts to reach someone on the phone. It takes between 11 and 13 attempts to ask for the business before you get a “yes.”
Oh, and can we check one box before we get started? There is no replacement for the phone. Yes, in-person is better than the phone, but it isn’t scalable. The phone is the best tool and use of time. Period! Everything else is just a distraction from what works.
Over my 30-plus years training and coaching, there are some trends that can be seen in the attitudes and behaviors of the best sales professionals. Here are 10 tips and traits from the best of the best.
1. No whining
Prospecting is our job. If we won’t do it, we should get a different job. It’s like the fisherman complaining about the smell of fish.
2. Schedule it!
If it’s not on our calendar, it doesn’t happen. We say “yes” to what’s on our calendar and “no” to what’s not.
3. Environment matters
If you like bright, make it bright. If you like quiet, make it quiet. If you like music, have music. If you like to sit, sit. If you like to stand, stand.
4. Pros practice
Whatever emotion you feel when talking about practice, the truth is that pros practice. In fact, pros practice more than anyone else. The easiest example of this is seen in professional sport.
There are countless stories of the greats — Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant — and their practice routines. First in, last out, falling in love with the preparation. A great resource to learn about how the pros practice is the book Relentless by Tim Grover.
Grover was the coach to Jordan and Bryant and has some wonderful stories to paint the picture. What’s more, football coach Nick Sabin said, “We don’t practice until we get it right, we practice until we can’t get it wrong.”
5. Physical state
Author Tony Robbins said, “If you want to change your emotional state, change your physical state.” How you show up will determine how you are received. How you are received will determine your outcome. Show up in the absolutely best state.
6. Eliminate distractions
We all have likely roadblocks in our lives. They can be something as simple as bathroom or water breaks. They can be more external such as Facebook or notifications, email or incoming calls. The best have a plan in advance for how they will handle those.
Use the restroom, and get some water before you start. Turn off all notifications. Set an auto responder on your email during the period you will be prospecting. Only make calls, don’t take calls.
7. Have an accountability partner
Accountability is a powerful tool. The best are not afraid to vocalize their commitments, nor are they afraid of being held accountable to them. They know they are going to celebrate accomplishment far more than they will fall short. Whether it’s a coach, a friend or a coworker, have a source of accountability.
8. Track it
If it’s important, track it. It would be considered luck to change your diet, not track what you eat, and accomplish your goal. You need to track what you eat to make sure you are on plan.
The best know how many calls they make, how many appointments they make from those calls, how many appointments it takes to get a customer and how many customers they need to make a sale.
9. Measure it
If you don’t learn from the information, why track it? Try a script for one week, and determine if it works. Measure the number of calls you make, and determine if you are making enough to get the proper number of appointments.
Measure the number of appointments you are going on and determine if you are going on enough to reach your goals. You will then see the trends. Which scripts work better than others. What times work better than others.
10. Pay attention to the size of your prospect list — it matters
Your call list needs to be large enough to fill the call-to-close requirements yet small enough to reach the “call quota.”
Here is an example: If it takes 10 calls to get one appointment, and four appointments to get one sale, your call-to-close ratio is 40:1. Your appointment-to-close ratio is 4:1. If your sales goals are based on annual numbers, then you can do the math.
I need 10 sales this year, which means 40 appointments, which means 400 phone calls. If I have to call eight times to get an appointment, then my prospect list needs to be 50 prospects for every 10 transactions. If there are 220 days in a work year, I need to connect with two prospects every day to reach them eight times in a year.
This is our job. If someone didn’t tell you there would be prospecting and sales involved, I am sorry. We are sales professionals. We find customers, we talk to customers, we serve customers. If we are trying to skip any of those steps, we are not doing our jobs. Follow these tips and traits to become one of the best.
Todd Conklin is the Chief Executive Officer at Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties and CB Commercial Prime Properties with offices in Idaho, Montana, and Colorado. You can connect with Todd on LinkedIn, Istangram, or Facebook.