These common pieces of conventional wisdom and prospecting advice are doing you more harm than good.
Conventional wisdom often sounds good, but it’s not always true and doesn’t always serve you well. Such is the case with sales prospecting.
Based on the results from a new study by RAIN Group Center for Sales Research, it turns out common advice given to sellers – "cold calling is dead," "buyers only research online," "buyers only contact sellers late in the process, if at all" – is hurting more than it's helping.
It’s helpful to learn from sales experts and sellers about what works for them – and we did that by surveying 489 sellers on their prospecting approaches and success. It’s significantly more powerful, however, to find out from buyers what influences them to connect with and take meetings with sellers. In this report, RAIN Group studied 488 buyers responsible for $4.2 billion in purchases to find out just that.
Here are five common pieces of conventional wisdom and prospecting advice that, according to buyers, are doing you more harm than good:
1. Buyers don’t want to hear from sellers.
Truth: Buyers want to hear from sellers, and they want to hear from you early, during the Define Vision phase of the buying process. In fact, 71 percent of buyers who accept meetings report that they want to talk to you when they’re looking for new ideas and possibilities to drive stronger business results, and 62 percent of buyers who accept meetings want to talk when they’re actively looking for a solution to a problem.
2. Cold calling is dead.
Truth: Cold calling is alive and well – and it's essential for prospecting success, especially if you’re selling to executives. “Phone call” was the second most preferred way buyers like to be contacted by sellers, second only to email. C-level and VP- buyers prefer the phone even more (57 percent) compared to lower level buyers.
3. Buyers don’t accept cold meetings.
Truth: Eighty-two percent of buyers say the accept meetings, at least sometimes, with sellers who reach out to them proactively. Furthermore, sellers control many of the factors that influence whether they get on a buyer’s calendar, such as:
- Need – Three-quarters of buyers are influenced to connect with a seller if they perceive a need for the product or service. You can influence need by driving demand for your offerings and inspiring buyers with new ideas.
- Budget – Nearly 65 percent of buyers are influenced to connect with a seller if they have a budget for the offering. Buyers usually have no budget for new possibilities and unseen changes. Inspire with the opportunity you bring, and budgets can appear.
- Value – Sixty-three percent of buyers are influenced to connect with a seller if the provider offers to share something of value. What could you possibly share of value?
4. Buyers don’t want to hear about your capabilities.
Truth: Buyers do research online, but they still want to hear about your capabilities. In fact, “descriptions of the provider’s capabilities” was the second most influential content offer (out of 11 offer types) for connecting with sellers. What else influences buyers to connect?
- Primary research data relevant to the buyer’s business (69 percent)
- Descriptions of the provider’s capabilities (67 percent)
- Content 100 percent customized to the buyer’s specific situation (67 percent)
Contrary to popular thought, buyers do want to hear about your offerings and how they should use them, but they want individual focus on their situations.
5. Cold meetings don’t convert to sales.
Truth: When buyers find sales meetings and sellers themselves valuable, more initial meetings convert into actual sales. Top performers in sales prospecting are more likely to meet or exceed their sales goals and achieve higher win rates. They’re getting more meetings and converting more into actual sales.
However, buyers report that only 42 percent of their sales meetings are valuable. If you can provide value in your sales meetings, you’ll greatly influence not only your ability to connect with buyers and secure a meeting, but you’ll also influence the ultimate buyer purchase decision.
As you think about your own prospecting efforts, take these findings to heart. It may be time to forget conventional wisdom and start doing what your buyers say works.