Is prospecting Really Dead?

by Michael Dalton Johnson

‘The report of my death was an exaggeration,’ Mark Twain reportedly said in response to a newspaper account of his demise. 

The reports of prospecting being dead are also greatly exaggerated. 

In response to my recommendation of Wendy Weiss’s book, The Sales Winner’s Handbook one subscriber wrote, “Has prospecting become an antiquated, ineffectual, and undesirable marketing method or does it still work?” While his question is similar to “Have you stopped beating your wife?” I will answer. 

Yes, it works but prospecting is one of the toughest forms of selling. It can be tedious and stressful work. And it’s certainly not the most popular sales activity. That’s precisely why publishers and marketers invented and then jumped on the No prospecting bandwagon. They saw dollars. Finding pain and offering a way to relieve it is a tried and true selling tactic and there’s nothing wrong with it per se. However, I’ve always felt you should have a solution if you are going to sell one.
We are told cold calls are a waste of time? The No prospecting crowd recommend other sales activities that they say are superior alternatives to prospecting. These include an e-mail newsletter, webinars, direct mail, fax blasts (when was the last time you were persuaded to make a purchase based on a fax – the kind that end up in the waste basket next to the fax machine?) Believe it or not one guru suggested handing out flyers as an alternative. 

Despite what you are being told, prospecting is alive and kicking – and still an important part of many successful sales and marketing efforts. 

The picture becomes clearer when you scrape away the image of people in cubicles, each frantically making dozens of calls a day. Instead, look at the inside salespeople, a little bit farther up the food chain, who, while using a variety of ways to generate leads, find they should also cold call for new business. 

In a lot of instances the need for a human voice is absolutely required. In a world of overhyped and outright devious Internet marketing, impersonal broadcast emailing and a transparently self-serving social media presence with thousands of “friends,” a person’s voice is reassuring and says “I am a human,.. a real flesh and blood being… just like you. Let’s talk.” 

Now for my questions for the No prospecting crowd: Have there been studies confirming the financial benefits of dropping prospecting? Are there case histories we may read? Do you have empirical evidence of any kind that would indicate the death of prospecting? 

The intriguing sales pitch for never prospecting sounds too good to be true and… well, you know the rest.
Michael Dalton Johnson is Founder and Publisher of SalesDog.com, and author of Rules of the Hunt, a best-selling business advice book available on Amazon.

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