Your prospecting mode means a whole lot less than you think it does. Fundamentally, effective prospecting happens when you interact with people who can say yes to you. Prospecting methods have evolved over time and continue to differ across industries, but the principle remains: the mode doesn’t matter as much as the message.
The evolution from the door-to-door traveling salesman, to the telemarketer, to the talking head on social media has slashed the cost of “no” for salespeople, and it has skyrocketed the possibility to scale. But the true art of prospecting hasn’t changed.
It’s easy to get lost in the noise surrounding the many ways to connect with prospects—the death of cold calls…the rise of social media—but focusing on that noise misses the point. The time spent uselessly debating the most effective prospecting mode is better spent actually focusing on doing the work. Get in front of people who can say yes to you. Period.
Traveling door-to-door salesmen did the work. The original cold call was not a ring in your pocket, it was a knock at your door. People weren’t accustomed to being interrupted by advertisements on screens (and certainly not ever-present, handheld screens). They were accustomed to speaking with a human being about the value of the product or service. Attention and connection were priceless, presentation skills were sharp, and objection handling was polished. It had to be.
Telephone technology allowed salespeople to become much more efficient (and to make more sales on rainy days). Now, the power of the Internet and technology seems to be rendering even the old-fashioned telephone obsolete. Why call one person when you can tweet to 1,000? Why spend time crafting an individual email, when you can use a merge tag and “personalize” that same email to 100 people at once? The tools at our disposal today create possibilities of scale that were simply unimaginable even 25 years ago.
This progress grants businesses unbelievable opportunity to scale and to connect with more people. However, scale and technology have also diluted the concentration of polished skill and personal connection in sales, and it’s led to mathematics and spam replacing empathy and connection. Few salespeople are as sharp in their prospecting as those traveling salespeople of old. However, to our prospects, the importance of a strong value proposition and a personal one-on-one interaction hasn’t faded.
As the old saying goes, “all politics are local.” Prospecting is no different. Some still rely on the telephone. Some continue to make door-to-door sales calls. Some run their prospecting efforts exclusively through their website and social media. An effective method for you may not be an effective method for someone else and vice versa. The mode itself doesn’t matter. Arguing about it wastes time. Selling is a results-oriented profession. Use whatever gets you home at the end of the month.
Selling is selling, and prospecting is prospecting, regardless of the medium.