“Sorry, I had a project delivery deadline that I could’t miss, so I didn’t call anyone on my list to do my prospecting”. Does that sound like something you’ve said in your business? It’s something I hear all the time from my clients who have hired me to help them prospect and get more clients. Every time I hear it, I want to use a time machine and zap them 6 months down the line into their bank account and show them the impact of that statement. I’m not the only one who thinks this way. Famous businessman Jim Rohn has said ‘We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment.’ I find this to be true in especially prospecting for sales in a small business. Here’s what it’s all about and what to do about it.
The Famous In vs. On Divide
So many businesses are struggling with balancing client work with prospecting (reaching out to try and get new client). This is the commonly known headache of ‘working in the business vs. on it’. The unbalance is easy to slide into. Business owners are able to justify time spent away from prospecting (a definite working on the business type of task) because they need to satisfy clients. The truth is that it’s very seldom that customer service in a company is suffering because of too much prospecting. In fact, I’ve never even seen such a thing happen.
Consistency Wins The Game
Small businesses are churning in a feast or famine cycle because while they’re busy with clients, they’re too busy to prospect. Then the lack of prospecting discipline in the heat of the action is followed by the pain of disappointment (famine). It never fails and every business owner knows this is how it works and yet still the cycle goes on.
Stop The Carousel
To stop the cycle of disappointment, there are a few things we put into place with clients. One is a clear plan with marked dates, activities and expected outcomes. Now, making the plan isn’t the big deal, it’s having me on their back for 6 months to keep them accountable to their implementation plan that actually makes the difference. Another way to stop the carousel of pain is to have a consistent day, time or month dedicated to doing the prospecting and attaching consequences to not doing them. For example, a sales team of 13 reps I coach have all got their individual accountability plans if they don’t complete their promised prospecting tasks. One guy buys donuts for the office. Another one wants to be told off in front of the other reps etc. So find the carrot or stick that works for you and your team.
Other ways we help clients keep prospecting while avoiding the pain of disappointment is to plan higher marketing activities prior to their seasonal downturns. In addiiton, there’s the Milestone approach of measuring success of prospecting by assigning goal posts by a certain date, ie. quarterly quotas etc. Lastly we help keep clients honest by establishing ‘an emergency threshold’. For example if a client is falling below an emergency threshold number of calls/visits/networking/coffee dates etc. per week/month/quarter, we flag the issue and re-convene to pour more time into prospecting.
So if you want to stop the pain of disappointment of lower sales, cancelled orders or lost clients, then never ever complain about the pain of prospecting discipline again.