To Succeed at Sales Prospecting, You Must Have This

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Erica Stritch Schultz
Erica Stritch Schultz


As The Office’s Michael Scott famously noted, it was Wayne Gretzky who said, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." In other words, you can't succeed unless you try.

sales rep is able to successfully reach prospects

That winning mindset allowed Gretzky to become a Hall of Famer, and the leading scorer in NHL history, with more goals and assists than any other player.

Download Now: Free Sales Prospecting Guide + Templates

Winners like Gretzky set goals and believe they will achieve them. No wonder sellers who adopt a winner’s mindset often achieve comparable success.

In fact, in the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research’s study, Top Performance in Sales Prospecting, we found significant differences in how top performers generate conversations and the quality of those conversations compared to everyone else.

For example, top performers:

  • Generate 2.7x more conversations with buyers
  • Bring more opportunities to proposal
  • Have higher win rates on their proposals
  • Are more likely to meet or exceed their sales goals

Let’s dig into why a winner’s mindset matters and ways you can think like a winner when you’re prospecting.

Buyers Want to Hear from Sellers

In the study, we found that nearly half of respondents don’t enjoy the time they spend prospecting. Motivation to be proactive, reach out, and generate new conversations is a huge challenge.

And yet, consider these findings:

  • 82% of buyers accept meetings at least sometimes with sellers who reach out.
  • 75% of purchases are strategic (i.e.: the purchase is an investment, not an immediate need), yet sellers propose strategic ideas only 14% of the time.
  • When account managers create opportunities proactively with their buyers, client satisfaction sky rockets (they report 83% significantly higher satisfaction).
  • 71% of buyers want to hear from sellers at the earliest part of their buying process, when they’re looking for new ideas and possibilities to drive stronger results to improve their business.
  • 43% of buyers who accept meetings say it’s okay for sellers to try to contact them five or more times before getting through.

Essentially, there’s no reason to procrastinate or be hesitant before reaching out, even if you’ve already done so and didn’t receive a response. Buyers want to hear from you. The data bears this out.

When you consider this and approach your outreach through the lens of adding value to your buyer and customer conversations, you’ll experience much greater success and be much more motivated to proactively reach out on a consistent basis.

Tune Out Your Self-Limiting Beliefs

So, how do you get over your fear of failure and conquer your self-doubts? Start by getting rid of any self-limiting beliefs. To counteract negative self-talk and prevent it from being a detriment to your prospecting efforts, talk to yourself positively. It’s just this simple: If you think you can do something, you're more likely to actually do it.

For example, instead of saying "Buyers don’t accept cold meetings, what’s the use in reaching out." Say, "I have valuable insights to offer this prospect, if I can just get through to them."

Instead of saying "I don’t want to bother my customers," say, "my customers value my opinion and I know I can help them make better decisions." And so on.

Easier said than done? Sure. Admittedly, it takes a little work to change a bad habit. But the results can be powerful. By changing how you talk to yourself, by tuning out those self-limiting beliefs, you can increase your mental toughness, and tasks that previously challenged you can become more possible to accomplish.

Focus on What’s Achievable

Often, what holds people back is that they set a hefty goal without thinking of the steps it’ll take to get there, and they give up.

For example, think of New Year’s Resolutions. How many people say they want to "get in shape" but then never do? If the resolution was more along the lines of "make healthier food choices" or "work out three times a week," the goal becomes more achievable.

Similarly, instead of focusing on Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs) or even a monthly or quarterly percentage goal, or a dollar amount, focus on the steps it’ll take to get there, such as the number of calls you’ll make in a week, or the number of emails you’ll send.

Set aside time to network and engage on LinkedIn. Translate the BHAG into smaller chunks you can complete, and you’ll get the positive reinforcement you need to keep going.

Celebrate All the Wins

Having a winner’s mindset isn’t just about starting strong, it’s about staying strong. That’s why it’s important to focus on the positive. It means celebrating all the wins — even the small ones that aren’t specifically about closing a specific sale.

For instance, have you been trying to get through to a buyer and finally—after a lot of digging—found a connection who can make an introduction? Celebrate.

Or maybe buyers weren’t using video during your virtual calls and after following some tips, now they’re showing up on camera. Celebrate.

When hard work pays off, you absolutely deserve to celebrate and give yourself some credit. Use the perspective of tasks completed as a reason to put jet fuel into your tank for future movement forward.

Remember: Buyers want to hear from you. With a winner’s mindset, you’ll take more shots — and will score more often.

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