Describe cold calling to someone outside of sales and they will cringe at the notion of contacting an unknown person and likely hearing that they don’t want to speak. Even sales people who claim to embrace hunting will often avoid cold calling if given the choice.
There is no doubt that prospecting for new customers is hard work and all but a few personality types have the disposition to embrace the practice and do it well. The practice, however, remains one of the most powerful ways for sales teams to achieve superior sales results (check out these stats!).
But if you were to take a stroll through the average sales team across the country, as we often do at Peak Sales Recruiting, you would find that many of the sales people responsible for acquiring new customers are not only not suited to, but actually not doing the work that would lead to finding new customers. This is particularly the case on sales teams where the responsibilities of the sales reps include a mix of managing existing accounts and finding new accounts, since this scenario allows the sales person to compensate for the lack of new business by delivering sales from existing accounts.
The Downside of Order Taking
While pursuing easy sales sounds like a smart thing for sales teams to do, there is a huge risk involved without some degree of balance between sales from the existing customer base and new customers. Sales might be strong in the short-term, but will suffer in the long-term as the sales team looks for low hanging fruit and becomes reactive rather than continually staying ahead of the competition and regularly bringing aboard ideal customers that can contribute to long term growth and profitability.
Many sales managers don’t like to admit that their sales teams may be relying too much on existing accounts, but the numbers won’t lie. If there is a problem with the prospecting machine, it will show up in the sales results from new customers, before it shows up in the overall sales numbers.
|ORDER TAKERS||ORDER MAKERS|
|Focus on any customer that is in buying mode regardless of whether the customer or transaction is ideal or not|
Find themselves in competitive scenarios where size of discounts often dictate who wins the business
Wait for the phone to ring
Do whatever they can to avoid making outbound calls – preferring to network and get referrals
Sell what the customer asks for and leave money on the table because they are not conditioned to probe for higher value solutions
Excel in the accounts that offer less opportunity and are less desirable to competitors
Regularly fall short of sales targets
|Target ideal customers whether they are in buying mode or not
Spend working time penetrating and developing opportunities that will contribute to quota attainment
Avoid competitive scenarios by speaking to prospects about needs before they have been identified and/or acknowledged
Win business based on value not price
Create long term relationships by offering solutions to real customer needs
Transaction sizes are larger as a result of shaping transaction with the customer rather than simply selling what the customer asks for
Consistently achieve or exceed sales targets
Which type of salespeople is your team made up of?
For more on sales hunters, check out these articles:
• Job Description of an Account Executive / Sales Hunter / New Business Developer
• Sales Compensation – Hunters vs. Farmers
• How to Hire Hunters
Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner.
He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.
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