We talked about “Farmers” and “Hunters” last time and how many salespeople fall into the comfortable role of farming their existing clients rather than bringing on new business.

This occurs largely due to a lack of a clear step by step plan on how to go about prospecting. Many salespeople make the excuse they are so busy servicing existing clients they don’t have time to prospect for new ones.

A recent study of over 500 companies in the UK would tend to support this argument. They weighed the influence of 73 different factors in successful selling.

What would you expect the number one cause of low achievement in sales to be?

  • Low motivation?
  • Personality Problems?
  • Inferior products or service?
  • Poor training?
  • Overpricing?


This survey pinpointed the number one cause of low achievement in sales as poor time utilization due to lack of planning.

This considered it comes back to us as the salespeople to plan our time to maximize our face to face time with prospects and clients.

A client I worked with recently in professional services was able to delegate 11 hours of low value work he had got into the habit of doing. This effectively gave him another 7 appointment slots in his week which could be used for –

  1. First appointments with new prospects
  2. Follow up appointments
  3. Existing client appointments
  4. Centre of influence meetings

All key components of a prospecting plan.

Another constraint that can impact on prospecting is the sales manager or business owner overloading the salesperson with other duties.

What we need to think about is in the wide range of activities we do in our business – manufacturing, accounting, HR, risk management, sales, research and development, quality control etc. Out of all of these only one – sales activities – brings in the money.

There is an old saying – “Without the sale no-one gets paid”

Another one for us to think about is – “Unless you are talking to a prospect or a customer you are unemployed”

So back to our prospecting plan – our first step is to have a clear picture of the type of prospects you wish to target, for without this you will waste precious time hunting the wrong game.

In our training we develop a prospect profile which describes in generic terms what a good prospect for our business would look like. This helps us to clarify which type of clients we wish to target and helps our centres of influence to better understand who they should be referring to us.

We will look at the next step in my next article.

Quote of the Day: Clean out your prospect funnel. Put your current prospects through a sieve. The biggest mistake salespeople make is they call on the same useless prospects over and over. If you have not been able to get anywhere with a specific group of prospects, move on and find new prospects. Being persistent is good. However, if you are spending too much time on fruitless leads you will just burn out. After a shepherd’s herd has eaten all the grass in a specific pasture he knows its time to move on to a new pasture. If he does not move on his sheep will starve. Move on if you are not getting anywhere with old prospects and come back at a later date. Larry Duca

Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group.