Salespeople pursuing a single point of contact when prospecting is like an engineer designing a system with a single point of failure. One mishap and your whole project crashes!
When Prospecting, Don’t Create a Single Point of Failure
My director of technology once told me about an experience he had in the early creation days of our call center. He said he had called into a local manufacturing company and was hooked up with the director of sales. He had done everything right, moving the relationship towards selling a set of training programs for the company’s sales team.
After two weeks of conversation, diagnosis, and evaluation, the talks suddenly stopped. In fact, my tech director said his contact just went completely dark.
After leaving his tenth creative voicemail, my tech director finally phoned in and called the operator for information. And that’s when he learned that the sales director, his single point of contact into the company, had suffered a debilitating heart attack and was out of action for at least two months. And according to the operator (remember, this is a small company, so information was less compartmentalized) the owner of the company hadn’t made a decision about a replacement.
So, in an instant, almost a month’s worth of effort was gone. When I asked my tech director how he handled the situation, he said he simply dropped the contact and the company. He said, “I spent a lot of time learning about this guy’s challenges, his professional life, his family, and his business. It may not have been the right move, but I felt that asking for a new contact in the company was extremely callous and unfeeling. If I was going to start with a new candidate, I might as well start with a new candidate in a fresh company. I didn’t want to leave the impression that I was a sales rep who cared for nothing but making the sale.”
The Prospecting Solution That Resolves This Challenge
I can understand the reasoning here. Everyone has their own style of dealing with these situations based on their personality, skills, and experience. But as a sales manager, you’re probably wondering, “How do I coach my people to deal with situations like that?”
Well, I’m here to tell you, the best way for anyone to address this type of situation is to head it off before it happens.
Here’s the deal. Studies have shown that 82% of sales reps feel challenged by the time it takes to research a prospect just to make the initial cold call. Thinking back to the earlier situation from my tech director, that’s the start of a major time commitment. But many sales reps often use prospect research and data collection as a crutch. For them, the inefficient sales rep, Google and LinkedIn have become the purgatory of sales activity.
The Art of Spiderwebbing to Create a Web of Influence
So here’s the solution to this particular challenge. On average, your salespeople should have 3 different decision makers within an account with whom they’re prospecting. Let’s define these decision-makers as:
- Managers or Level 3
- VP/Directors or Level 2
- C-Suite, presidents, company owners or Level 1
In most B2B sales, it takes 2 to 3 decision-makers to influence a decision. So, it’s best to call in, probe the organization, and find the important stakeholders who will be directly impacted by your solution. Don’t get me wrong, using one of the online marketing databases is a good start. But you’re still better off calling into a company and striking up an conversation with the gatekeeper or a manager and getting references rather than relying on a database of contacts that’s updated every 2 to 6 months. This methodology for using cold call prospecting to discover these decision makers is called Spiderwebbing. It’s one of the techniques we review in our programs. It’s also something we teach sales managers how to coach their team to use to be an effective prospector.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit, it’s easy to connect with a Level 3 contact. But to shorten their sales process, they’ll need to meet with a Level 1 or 2 decision maker. Level 1 decision-makers have more power and can make a decision quicker. They will ultimately be the ones who close the deal. However, sometimes they are the hardest to secure an appointment with. Level 2 decision makers ultimately may control the budget but will also rely on the opinions of the Level 3 managers.
Enhancing Your Team’s Prospecting Process
Here’s my question to you: Do your salespeople have the capacity, talent, and bandwidth to cold call your target market? Are they banking on a single point of contact like my tech director? Or are they developing a rich network of contacts using techniques like Spiderwebbing? As sales managers, it’s our job to train and coach our team to reach success. But coaching individual team members is enhanced when you give them coaching based on their strengths, weaknesses, skills, and abilities.
If you are anything like me, you’ll probably spend some time during this Independence Day weekend reviewing your team and assessing what they need to help them reach their full potential. That’s why during these holiday breaks, I’ll spend some of that time reviewing our salespeople’s backgrounds. I’ll then determine the skills and abilities they need to enhance their effectiveness. By the same idea, our processes will help you and your team do the same. We measure your team’s skills gaps and blindspots. We then help you create a system to achieve a level of performance with your team through assessments and coaching.
Contact us directly and discover how individual assessments, leadership coaching, and training can enhance your team’s overall prospecting effectiveness.
For more ideas on how to coach your team on prospecting and cold calling, get a copy of Selling is an Away Game, available online at Amazon, fine bookstores and many Hudson News locations.