Youve got 1,000 new names in your prospect
900 of them will NEVER DO BUSINESS WITH YOU.
How much in sales resources are those 900 costing?
When Brian was hired as V.P. of Sales for a Mid-western
manufacturer of telecom equipment, he inherited a sales force of five and a database with
approximately 1,400 names, addresses, and phone numbers. These names were a legacy of
trade shows, direct mail responses, and even a list purchased three years ago from a list
broker. Each sales person was responsible for servicing between 30 and 35 accounts. So the
sales force is in some ongoing profitable contact with a total of about 150-175 accounts.
Brians COO feels that there is just a TON of untapped business in the suspect
database, and in management meetings, continually hounds Brian about milking that list.
The sign behind Brians chair in his office could read
"REAL SALESMEN PROSPECT", because thats what hes preached. Hes
encouraged his team to dig into that fertile mountain of pregnant business and grow the
company. But heres what Brian doesnt understand. On the average, his sales
people prospect less than one hour per day
.after all, theyve got all these
customers to service and orders to track and
and. Further, when they
prospect, they dial the phone between 4 and 5 times per hour
.rejection is not
exciting for them! The deck is stacked against the salesperson prospecting. When they DO
reach a person with some interest in the product, the prospecting call usually turns into
a feature rich sales pitch frequently ending in high expectations on the part of the sales
person and one more piece of potential, but unlikely business in the pipeline.
Theyre SALESPERSONS! Its what theyre supposed to do! On top of that,
Brian has discovered a pattern of calling on the same prospects over and over which
resulted in over 900 of these names having not been contacted in over three years, over
500 of them having NEVER been talked to.
A lot of money has been spent acquiring this list of names.
Too often management assumes (ASS U MEs) that the size of a list of suspects (or the cost
to obtain that list) indicates the number of new customers or the amount of new business
(in dollars) to be obtained. The truth is a vast majority of these names will never
do business with you. The Salespeople know that. Thats why they hate
When would you like to know that? A year from now?
Six months from now? NOW?
First, the list is as fresh as its ever going to be
right now. If Brian could hit a key on his computer that would tell him which of these
names are worthless, hed probably do it right now. So why are 900 of these names
still sitting out there unresolved? Because he doesnt have that computer program and
his salespeople are not interested in finding out whos worthless!
Before Brian can know whos a real prospect (has Money,
Authority and Need, is Logically and Emotionally qualified, is In Market
term you wish to use) now, he needs to know who is NOT a real prospect. A non-prospect is
someone who doesnt buy what we sell
or who doesnt buy in quantities large
enough for our business model
or doesnt have budget. There can be any number of
reasons why a suspect could be a non-prospect. Every time one of our salespersons locates
a warm bodied attentive listener, they STOP PROSPECTING and start selling. Sometimes they
work at making a non-prospect into a prospect (by stretching the qualifications of a
prospect, or over extending the company to satisfy a need). Again, its
JOB! In these cases, the prospecting effort gets compromised by the selling effort. They
COMPETE for salesperson resources.
So lets try something new. What if Brian hired someone
who was not a sales person to continually rake over the suspect list and ask them all the
tough DIS-qualifying questions sales people dont want to ask
such as "Do
you do enough business for us to be interested?" Or, "Do you have any work
coming up for review in the next 90 days?" A "NO" from either of these
questions would NOT result in a further sales call, or resources being spent pursuing an
on-site interview. Rather, the name (if there is any logical reason for it) would simply
be re-cycled for a call 90 or180 days down the road. If the prospect turns out to be
someone who never buys Brians stuff then he falls off the list
one more name no one has to call. If nothing else comes from this exercise,
Brians list shrinks, but the quality of whats left is far superior to what he
Thought for the day. PROSPECTING is the art of quickly
DISQUALIFYING a suspect so it doesnt interfere with the selling process. SELLING is
the art of getting your solutions to fit a QUALIFIED leads needs.
A dedicated Prospecting Specialist can make 18 - 30 calls in
one hour! Working half time (20 hours per week), the Prospecting Specialist can call the
whole database in less than a month! Asking the right disqualifying questions, he will
know immediately (well, within a month) which ones to spend resources on and which ones to
A large database full of question marks, or a small database
of qualified prospective business. It's your choice. You decide.
# # #
About the Author:
DeMotte is the founder and managing partner of Power of NO™, a St.
Louis-based firm specializing in improving corporate sales and management
effectiveness. He works with companies developing strategies for saying
"NO" when and where it is appropriate. He has successfully owned and
operated two distribution companies, a manufacturing company, two service
companies, a software company and a consulting firm. He can be reached at kim@powerofNO.com or at (877) 245-8250. For
more information on The Positive Power of NO, visit his website at www.powerofNO.com.
Positive Power of NO: how that little word you love to hate can make or break
(2003, Facts on Demand Press, ISBN: 1-889150-40-1, $17.95) is
available at bookstores nationwide, major online booksellers, or directly from
the publisher by calling (800) 929-3811.