In the heyday of cold calling, prospecting was relatively simple. Pick up the phone, dial a random person, ramble off a list of product features and benefits, and score a new opportunity. Repeat as many times as necessary to fill your pipeline.
But today, it's a little different. Thanks to caller ID technology, buyers can screen their calls, and make sure they never pick up a call from a salesperson. The internet provides all the information a buyer could possibly want during their initial research phase -- no salesperson required. And in light of these changes, filling the top of the funnel is a far more difficult task than in decades past.
Are you struggling to tailor your prospecting game to shifting buyer preferences? If so, you're not alone. Richardson's 2016 Selling Challenges Study, which surveyed more than 400 sales professionals, revealed the top three prospecting problems salespeople are grappling with today:
Identifying triggers/sales signals that indicate issues you can resolve
Identifying target accounts
If you read last year's report, the top slot might seem familiar. "Identifying triggers" was also the leading prospecting challenge in 2015.
"Buyers are more informed about potential solutions and company services that can alleviate their business issues or spur growth," the report notes on this point. "They have much clearer ideas about what they want to purchase, making it difficult for sales professionals to identify sales signals that indicate issues that they can resolve."
As for how the top three challenges are linked to each other, the report's authors hypothesized a cause-and-effect relationship between these issues and evolving prospect communication preferences.
"Hundreds of emails, InMails, re-marketing messages, etc. are having a reverse effect than intended," the report states. "Buyers are shutting down inbound communications and relying more on their trusted networks for information. To get through, sales professionals must be skilled in conducting a valuable and valued needs dialogue with buyers when the opportunity arises."
The study also probed into salespeople's challenges with negotiation and closing. The top challenges in these areas were gaining higher prices and competing against a low cost provider, respectively. To read the full results, download the study here.
What's your biggest challenge with prospecting today? How are you changing your prospecting practices to respond to the modern buyer? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Originally published Mar 15, 2016 12:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017