Sales is a tough field, with competition around every turn. And while many successful account managers have found ways to rise above the competition, just as many struggle to get a foothold. Unfortunately, in many cases, that’s due in large part to a few bad habits and mistakes that they don’t even know they are making when they prospect for new clients. Although not everyone makes these errors, it’s worth looking at your own prospecting process and identifying any mistakes your making. Not sure where to start? Here are some of the most common prospecting mistakes that account-based sales pros make.
1. Not Knowing a Lead’s “Buy Point”
Chances are, you are familiar with the concept of a “buyer’s journey” when it comes to making sales; you know that your customers follow a fairly predictable path from initial interest to actually making a purchase. But do you really know what your lead’s “buy point” or “conversion point” might be?
You should. By reviewing your existing accounts, you should be able to identify patterns in your customers’ journeys, including the common conversion or buying points. Understanding how your existing customers came to you allows you to tailor your prospecting and interactions with leads to provide the right information at the right time and to use your time more effectively.
2. Using Canned and Impersonal Communication
Sometimes, prospecting can feel tedious — like you are putting a lot of work in for not a lot of return. Or perhaps you aren’t convinced that a lead is going anywhere, so you don’t want to put in a lot of effort. In any case, you might rely on impersonal, canned communication, such as a template or standard email or boring voicemail script — and then wonder why you aren’t getting a response.
But think about it: How do you feel when you get an impersonal communication that’s clearly a form letter? It’s not likely that you will respond, is it? It’s the same with prospecting. It’s important to always personalize your outreach, and avoid using the same exact email or voicemail message more than once. If your communication is becoming canned, your prospecting isn’t going to bear fruit, and you need to change your approach.
3. Making It All About You
Sales 101 probably taught you that successful relationships aren’t what your company or product do. It’s about what you can do for your clients and how you can help them do things better, more efficiently and at the right price.
Yet all too often, this fundamental concept is forgotten when prospecting, and account managers spend too much time talking about themselves and the great things that have to sell and not learning about the prospect’s needs. It’s a fine line to walk and requires skill, but successful sales professionals are able to uncover the problems that prospects need to be solved, while also presenting their product as the solution. Therefore, to be more successful, you need to find that balance and avoid pushing your product too soon and focus on problem-solving.
4. Not Comparing Leads to Buyer Personas
Creating buyer personas isn’t just a fun creative writing exercise. It’s a powerful way to identify your ideal customers — as in, the people who need your product the most and are most likely to buy. They are meant to be guides, not only in identifying who to sell to but how to sell to them. And yet all too often, account managers forget about the buyer personas and treat every lead the same.
The fact is, though, that not all leads are created equally, and not all leads fit your buyer personas. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t explore every lead, but spending the same amount of time on every lead is not productive. Spend the most time on the leads that most closely align with the buyer persona and less time on those that aren’t as close of a match. Not only will prospecting be more successful, but you’ll also avoid wasting time on leads that aren’t ever going to go anywhere.
5. Not Doing Enough Research
Successful prospecting is about doing your homework. Without the right sales intelligence, how are you going to know if you are talking to the right person? How can you tailor an initial pitch to speak to the prospect’s priorities? And how can you avoid embarrassing yourself by asking questions that a simple web search would answer?
Without knowing why a prospect would want to talk to you, you immediately lose credibility and the prospect’s trust. The more information you have, though, the better the chances that you can engage in a conversation that will eventually lead to a relationship. You don’t need to know every single detail about your prospect (no need to be creepy), but having a solid grasp of the business’ basic information, key players, priorities, and challenges can get your foot in the door.
Prospecting takes work, and it’s not something that you should begin doing blindly. Develop a prospecting strategy that avoids these mistakes, and you’ll see better results from your efforts.