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Salespeople Should Stop Prospecting and Sell More

Cold calling might be one of the least pleasant and least rewarding activities salespeople do. According to Aaron Ross, co-author of the book, "Predictable Revenue," it is also a waste of their time – and their company's resources. His experience as CEO of a Silicon Valley startup that failed taught him the value of professional selling; an area in which he'd had no previous experience. He went on to get his "MBA in sales" at Salesforce.com, working his way up from the very bottom rung. It was there that he started off making far too many cold calls and figured out that there had to be a better way.

This was "before Salesforce.com was a household name," Ross told ZoomInsights. The company was therefore relying on cold calls to generate new leads. It wasn't working. Ross proposed coming up with an approach to improve the lead generation process and then immersed himself in sales books and best practices. "It took me about four months to crack the code and come up with a replicable process that could generate leads from cold calls."

After testing it himself, then having others on the team try his process with great success, Ross knew he had developed a winning formula. While researching, he noticed a lot of sales books on how to cold call. But none provided a high level, strategic approach to make this difficult process not only productive but much more pleasant. That's why he wrote "Predictable Revenue."

Here's why Ross believes salespeople should not prospect:

They Aren't Good At It

Salespeople, said Ross, aren't good at prospecting. This isn't necessarily their fault, though. Ross said, "Cold calls are just not effective, neither are cold emails." Instead, Ross believes that organizations should have specialized sales people who use a well-developed approach to identify good leads. With a clearly defined prospect in mind, and replicable process that works, these specialized sales support people gain valuable experience. They also deliver warm leads to experienced sales people who can focus on closing sales.

They Hate To Do It (so they don't)

Given how ineffective most cold calls are, it's no wonder salespeople hate making them. Besides, Ross said "salespeople are busy and have more pressing things to do than make cold calls." Even if they are good at prospecting, Ross points out that "they have to stop prospecting to close deals." This puts them on a "very dangerous roller coaster" according to Ross, in which they close out the quarter and find themselves with a totally dry pipeline. In business, Ross said, "Peace of mind is so elusive. A predictable pipeline is predictable revenue and that is peace of mind." As an added benefit, he said, "When you have a process that works, sales is more enjoyable. The idea is to make sales a more pleasant experience for the prospects and the salespeople so that it never seems like selling."

It's a Waste of Money

"Having salespeople prospect is having your highest cost resource person do the lowest value activity," said Ross. While at first glance, it may seem like it would be more expensive to add dedicated staff for prospecting, Ross points out that "It is a productivity argument, not a cost argument." He said that if salespeople are spending half their time ineffectively prospecting, hiring a few dedicated prospectors will allow fewer (more expensive) salespeople to be much more productive. And besides adding to the bottom line, Ross said that "your salespeople will be much happier because they get to spend all their time on what they do best. They'll make more money and enjoy their job a lot more."

Make Finding Prospects Easier

Regardless of who does the prospecting at your company, they need access to up-to-date, complete profiles of potential customers. How else can they identify those who are most likely to buy? ZoomInfo Pro provides the data they need, in an easy-to-use Web interface. Find out more.