5 Prospecting Mistakes You Need to Start Avoiding Right Now

Author: Alex Kaye, Rose Garden Consulting
Posted: July 6th, 2020

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The prospecting stage bottlenecks the entirety of your sales process. While discovery is possibly the most critical step once you’ve engaged with prospects, prospecting isn't an easy task. 

Today, roughly 58% of buyers say their sales meetings aren’t valuable. This is partly because prospects are occupied and unwilling to talk to salespeople, and partly because salespeople are moving towards a more aggressive approach to compensate for the time lost. The result - it's getting harder than ever to connect with a prospect who happens to be a good fit.

And it becomes harder still if you're making one of the five fatal prospecting mistakes mentioned below. You can try checking these mistakes against your own sales strategy to catch which of your prospecting habits you need to get rid of.

1) Trying Hard to Sell while Forgetting to Listen

As a salesperson, particularly as a beginner, oftentimes one never really puts much contemplation into whether or not their words harmonize with their bodily actions. Communication in sales is about much more than words alone. In every dialogue, the person selling needs to win the trust of the listener or the buyer.

One best practice here would be to ask open-ended questions more often, and not make prolonged arguments without first getting to know the prospect. If you don’t do this, you’ll end up using all of your artillery even before the battle commences. A salesperson needs to be observant of naturally expressed desires from the client’s end since they’ll get to learn much more about their customers this way rather than by simply reciting the same scenario in a loop, hoping to find a receptive person in the end.

Whether it’s an early effort to close a sale prior to even comprehending the needs of your prospects, or the habitual inattention due to the repetition of your sales pitch, you’re making the same mistake of trying to make the sale at all costs. You need to understand it just doesn’t work that way. Alternatively, take benefit of the discovery phase to ameliorate your proposal. Prepare your pitch several steps ahead by letting your prospect open up to you first.

2) Investing too much Time and Effort in a Poorly Qualified Lead

Everything in sales begins with the potential your raw data holds. Whatever the sector or discipline, it’s the quality of your foundations that you’ll need to regulate before anything else. 

The first mistake therefore is - trusting the earliest prospecting file, which is usually built on expectations of the final target “customer.” Often having been dealt with in a hurry and being poorly qualified, this will reduce your efficacy and make you lose out on precious time, most of all eroding the value of your products.

As a result, the first few days of your sales activity are critical when it comes to correcting your goal. To avert dejection, it is vital to ensure that you’re on the right track, changing course as quickly as possible and as much as necessary to augment your commercial impact.

Your goal should, at no point in time, be that of reproducing your original lead file, however arduous the process may be. Your goal should be to replace every unproductive prospect file with a new one composed of well-qualified leads that will take you closer to your end goal. Experiment often. If your current strategy doesn’t seem to work, you should immediately start looking up new techniques to transform your deal execution and get desired results your way.

3) Failing to Challenge the Lead Generation Channels

As someone directly engaging with prospects, your first objective should be that of ensuring you’re speaking to the right people, because the rest of your performance is solely going to hinge on your communication skills. To set up these foreground contacts, you’ll need to broaden your lead generation techniques and avoid restricting yourself to predetermined boundaries. 

The best opportunities are often located in unexplored waters and under the radar, especially within this constantly competing landscape we’re part of today. This is why it is of supreme importance to be pliable and formulate original lead generation channels. Don’t restrict yourself to your initial path, because this will in turn limit your performance right in the beginning. Getting yourself recommended happens to be the holy grail of sales, but you won’t get there right from the start.

Create a circle of influence for yourself through social media platforms and optimise your company’s blog frequently to attract target clients, qualified by keywords. Inbound Marketing has taken a clear lead over other methods, requiring you to switch from a cold-calling process to one where you gather potentially interested targets, already qualified through your “acquisition funnel.” 

Your blog is going to be your best asset in this ever-changing territory. Embrace Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and create your flagship article, which will bring hundreds of readers to your site every day.

4) Being Shortsighted

Your first refusal is by no means a red flag when it comes to sales prospecting. Lack of interest and unresponsiveness happen to be the harsh reality of our domain, but you’ll never get anywhere without reaching out first.

Getting turned down is already proof that your prospect will appreciate it if you come up with a better option, so learn to use that to your advantage. It will only be ineffectual to become vexed upon reception of an email declining your effort. Instead, use this opportunity to learn what pitch your counterparts in the marketplace are using to lock in clients. As long as you’re pulling out information from your target, you’ll always come out winning in the long term.

Sales prospecting demands optimal effort. One important thing to remember here is that in order to crack a successful pitch, you must be able to hold a prospect’s attention in the long term. If you do this, they’ll think of you immediately when their need turns to absolute necessity and take action. 

This makes it essential on your part to scratch the "all-or-nothing" framework that forces you to push your contacts to the sidelines. Any target under pressure will eventually say no. This is a perfectly logical response. The objective is to maintain over time a file of prospects that will eventually mature and produce tangible commercial results.

5) Not Being Aware of the Required Conversion Steps to Take Next

Salespeople who opt for a “hit-or-miss” attitude frequently end up getting lost in their own unsystematic methodology. At the end of the day, they don’t know anything about the best plan for canvassing and find themselves lost. 

A concrete example is not paying much heed toward providing a free test period of service. What looks evident at the physical point of sale must also be made so at a distance, with the sales target having the option of test accounts or demonstrations.

It’s essential to provide an honest and clear overview of the product. Supplemental steps may be necessary too, and should be listed for your “funnel.” Your Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) must precisely mirror each of these key steps, so that you’ll be able to see at a glimpse where exactly your prospects stand. A client file sorted only by company name isn’t an effective way to organise your prospects. You need to know exactly where you are with each prospect. The same goes for tracking your call log.

Now that you have a few concrete steps to follow for your sales prospecting, avoid doing anything that is in contrast with the points mentioned above. Give the process some time and you’ll surely achieve desired results.


Alex Kaye is a veteran revenue operations at Rose Garden Consulting expert with more than a decade of experience. He has helped dozens of companies to achieve sustainable growth by crafting winning go-to market strategies, providing data insights, and designing scalable business processes.


B2B Sales, Prospecting, Sales Tips


Communication, Prospecting, Building a Pipeline, Best Practices