10 principles that lead 
to prospecting success
Written by Mike Cooch

Every activity worth pursuing has a set of guiding principles or philosophies that when known and accepted make everything easier. 

A light bulb seems to turn on when people absorb them for the first time.

The following business principles are some of our favorites. You may know them too—if so they have probably already had a very positive impact on your life:

  • “Nothing happens until someone sells something.”
  • “Salary earns you a living, equity earns you wealth.” 
  • “Work on the business, not in the business.” 

When these principles are unknown or ignored, everything is harder than it needs to be. 

Achievement comes slowly and with difficulty. 

Selling in this industry is no different—there are principles that need to be learned and practiced to make your life easier and get the results you desire. 

The principles described below have served us and others in this industry very well. 

Learn them and do your best to incorporate them into your business every day. 

Let them guide your decisions and behaviors and your sales efforts will be more successful.

PRINCIPLE 1: YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE.

That’s right, YOU. 

Sales and marketing is the #1 job of anyone reading this guide, even if (especially if!!) you are the founder of the company.

You sell your employees on your vision, your clients on your abilities, and your investors on the potential of your business.

If you think being an expert at web design or SEO is your #1 job, you will remain a small company (if this concept is new to you, your very first homework assignment from this guide is to buy a copy and read Michael Gerber’s excellent book “The E Myth: Why Most Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It”).

If you want to remain a very small company, that’s fine. 

But don’t complain that your company isn’t growing or that you aren’t making as much money as you want to. 

Rather, accept your fate as a very small company and don’t get stressed when you don’t grow.

That’s not meant to be harsh, just honest.

If you want to grow to be a bigger company—then you have to be absolutely diligent about building a sales and marketing engine at your company.

If you are a salesperson reading this, YOU are also responsible. 

Every company that you will go to work for has its flaws. The products should be better, the services should be better, marketing should do a better job of finding you leads.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that someone else is responsible for your success or failure as a salesperson—it isn’t true. 

Accept that you are 100% responsible and get to work!

Know your goals and have the guts to develop the skills and behaviors necessary to go after them.

PRINCIPLE 2: KNOW YOUR GOALS AND TRACK YOUR RESULTS

I’m a big believer in goal setting. 

It’s been proven over and over again that people who have set written goals for themselves and regularly review their progress against those goals have a dramatically higher chance of actually achieving them than those that don’t.

Don’t deny yourself the extra firepower of knowing your goals and clearly articulating them on paper. You should create a personal goal setting routine that is reviewed and updated regularly.

And I’m not just talking business goals; I’m talking personal goals that get you juiced to come to work and bring your best every day.

The trick is to then translate those goals into the daily sales behaviors you need to achieve the goals you’ve laid out. In other words, to earn enough money to go on that big vacation three months from now you need three more clients. Which means you need to:

  • Send out proposals to 10 qualified prospects 
  • Have 30 meetings 
  • Make 100 calls per day

You get the picture.

If I just tell you that you should make 100 calls per day for the rest of the year, it will hit you with a thud. But if we are able to draw a clear line between making 100 calls per day and achieving your personal dreams, we will create energy and passion in your work.

PRINCIPLE 3: CONSISTENCY IS KEY—YOU MUST MAKE TIME FOR PROSPECTING EVERY DAY

If there is one characteristic that stands out amongst all of the best salespeople I know it’s that they are consistent. They get to work early, work their game plan, and repeat it day after day without fail. 

This is a secret to sales success at your business. 

Someone must be prospecting at all times. 

Every minute that someone is not prospecting is a minute that can never be regained.

Whether you are the salesperson or you have hired someone else to play that role, make sure that dedicated time is set aside every day for prospecting, and that this time is considered SACRED and UNINTERRUPTIBLE!

The number one killer of prospecting consistency is not being organized and disciplined. 

The number two killer is call reluctance, which is why you must …

PRINCIPLE 4: EXPECT REJECTION BUT DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY

Taking rejection personally when you're a salesperson is kind of like getting down in the dumps if you don't hit every single basketball shot. 

In basketball it is impossible to make every shot, and if you let missing get into your head then you’ll never be a championship-caliber player.

The same is true for prospecting. 

Rejection is just a part of the game. 

You must recognize this and learn not to take it personally so that it does not slow down your prospecting efforts.

The best way to do this is to focus on the process, not the result.

Most people experience call-reluctance when making cold calls because they are so emotionally attached to the results of cold calling—being hung up on, having people tell you no, etc.

This is natural, of course, but you must not let it stop you from making progress!

Focus on the specific techniques you are using and how well you are executing on them—the results will fall in line.

The reality is that for even the best cold callers, a majority of calls will end in not getting an appointment with the prospect. 

If you focus on this and see it as a failure, you'll never sell much.

PRINCIPLE 5: HAVE AN OBJECTIVE FOR EVERY CALL

Each and every prospecting call you make sure have a specific, measurable goal. 

As I’m sure you understand by now, if you have a specific objective for any situation, you are much more likely to make that objective a reality.

The same goes for prospecting. 

Before you pick up the phone or walk in that door, make sure you know what you are trying to accomplish. Is it:

  • Getting an appointment? 
  • Learning the decision maker’s name? 
  • Determining their budget? 
  • Inviting them to an event? 
  • Educating them?

Whatever it is, you should be clear about it so you can give yourself the best chance of actually achieving it.

PRINCIPLE 6: DON’T SPEND TIME WITH THE WRONG PROSPECTS

Having the wrong customer is a killer. It eats up the time and morale of your team and distracts you from your good customers.

Good customers start as good prospects. 

Bad customers start as bad prospects.

You must profile the characteristics of a good customer and have the discipline to turn away prospects that don’t fit the description.

You will not turn a bad prospect into a good customer!!!

It doesn’t matter how big the deal is or what the prospect tells you about how the relationship will be after you have signed a deal- it won't turn into a good customer.

You must make sure that you don’t bother bringing the wrong customer into your portfolio of business. 

The sale won’t stick and neither will the commission—it’s a waste of time for everyone involved.

PRINCIPLE 7: LOOK FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE INTERESTED IN BUYING TODAY

The primary objective of prospecting is to find someone that is interested in buying your services TODAY. 

This should be top of mind during your prospecting activities.

Now don’t get me wrong—you MUST nurture your long term prospects as well, but it shouldn’t be your primary objective as a salesperson; it should be your secondary objective.

Your primary objective should be to look for business that is going to close in the next thirty days—whether that comes from a new prospect or one you’ve been working for years.

That means that your prospecting process must be good at identifying people who have a problem they are looking to solve immediately.

PRINCIPLE 8: THE SALES PROCESS ESTABLISHES THE RELATIONSHIP

The sales process is the start of the client’s relationship with your company. You’d better make sure that you know how to get it off on the right foot!

You must ensure that your sales process and salespeople reflect the values of your company and avoid doing anything that will set you up for future problems.

Like what?

Lying. For some reason it’s become socially acceptable for salespeople to “bend the truth” to try to win business.

Discounting. “Sure, _________, we’ll knock $15/hour off of our rate to get in the door.” Now the client knows they just have to push and they can get a big discount on your services, and ruin your profitability.

Giving away time. This has become a common marketing tactic in our industry. Do a job for free to get in the door. Bad news. What precedent does it set with the client when you are willing to give away the only thing you have to offer them?

You need to demonstrate and protect the value of your services at all times during the sales process, or you will always be considered a low value vendor.

PRINCIPLE 9: GET THE RELATIONSHIP

As I said before, you will have long term prospects to nurture—eventually they will become the lifeblood of your sales pipeline.

In every case, in every interaction, you should try to establish a positive relationship with the person you are prospecting.

People buy from people they like and trust. Try to add value to their life on every interaction you have with them.

This can be done by providing helpful information, telling them a good joke, giving them a gift, introducing them to someone of value—there are a million possibilities.

If you establish a relationship, they will think to call you when they are looking for services.

PRINCIPLE 10: MAKE SURE THAT NO SINGLE DEAL BECOMES TOO IMPORTANT TO YOU

There's nothing worse than seeing a salesperson struggle to close an important deal that they've been spending all of their time on, and then having that deal fall through. 

The salesperson was putting all of their eggs in one basket and it didn't pay off.

The reason for this is that the salesperson was not doing enough prospecting. They found what they thought was a hot deal and they started to spend too much time on that one deal at the expense of finding possible new prospects.

The solution to this is to make sure that you have a large database of prospects, and that you are always working a large enough number of prospects that you never become reliant on the success of any one deal.

KEEP THESE 10 PRINCIPLES IN MIND AND SEE YOUR SALES SOAR!

As with most things, success in sales comes from practicing fundamentals daily.

The ten principles covered in this post are fundamentals to practice daily.

Do so, and see your results soar!

Happy prospecting!

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All the best,


Mike Cooch and the Local Sales Lab Team

Mike Cooch

Mike generates 6-7 big ideas before breakfast (conservative estimate). LocalSalesLab.com CEO & founder is a “serial entrepreneur” with Texas-sized passion for sales & marketing, business development, and technology. He is an expert in local and digital marketing. His businesses have been named to the INC Magazine List of Fastest Growing Companies three years in a row, and were also nominated as a Best Place to Work in their respective cities. He is married with three children, and is learning to surf in his new hometown of San Diego (lifestyle design, baby!).

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