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How to Avoid the Sales Prospecting Rabbit Hole

Author Kendra Lee

Sometimes it’s hard to give up on prospects who you’ve called, and called, and called. You’ve left voicemails, sent emails, and researched them on LinkedIn. Even though you’ve never spoken, over time, these prospects feel like people you know. Suddenly you’re comfortable calling repeatedly. If you could just get in the door, you know they’d want to meet with you.

But that’s probably not the case.

These prospects aren’t returning your calls or emails. Clearly, they don’t see the need to talk with you. Spending more time with them isn’t going to change their mind.

Yet onward many sales reps push. So how many times do you try to reach a prospect?

Throwing In the Towel?

How do you know when it’s time to give up on a prospect and stop hounding them, especially when you’re tasked with drumming up new business? Some salespeople proclaim, “Never give up!”

But consider this.

There are plenty of prospects out there who could benefit from your help. Not only that, there are plenty of prospects who recognize they need help. It’s simply a matter of finding them.

If it feels like you aren’t making any headway, you probably aren’t.

Five Questions to Address

Here are five questions to ask yourself if you’ve fallen into the prospecting rabbit hole:

  1. Are your opening statement and voicemail focused on them and their business issues – not you and your solutions?
  2. Have you tried to reach the prospect at least 9 times AND use multiple methods to reach them?
  3. Are you disciplined, attempting to reach them consistently, every few days?
  4. Have you spoken with anyone else in the organization to confirm you’re calling the right contact?
  5. Have you tried to reach another contact to determine if there is a need?

Yesterday a business owner was sharing the results from lead generation campaign follow-up calls. (We hold our clients accountable for call follow up!) He shared how were sending the campaign to two contacts within one company. One executive contact replied, “take me off your list!” The other executive contact replied, “Yes, let’s definitely meet! This is a priority.”

Before you give up on a prospect, you have to be able to answer “yes” to all five questions. That’s when you know you’re in the rabbit hole, and it’s time to make a change.

Now, before you jump for joy and throw away all your prospects, let me share that many sales people I talk with only make three attempts to reach a prospect. Often all three of those attempts are emails. Maybe one is a call.

Three attempts aren’t that many and don’t constitute a rabbit hole.

The Rule of Nines

Prospects know sales people give up easily. So, in today’s prospecting world, you have to keep calling. (Yes, you can intersperse emails.) My rule of thumb is to call at least nine times.

If a prospect is able to ignore you after nine calls, he or she really doesn’t have a need right now. They’re telling you that without ever responding to you. Now you’re headed for the rabbit hole, and it’s time to find some new prospects to pursue, people who may really want your help. Sometime in the future this prospect may need you but not right now. Stop chasing them and move on to another group of prospects. Plan to revisit them in six months. Maybe they’ll be ready to talk then.

Chasing one prospect constantly doesn’t work out so well. There are many prospects out there who can use your help. Recognize when you’re headed for a rabbit hole and make a strategic course correction to go find those prospects who will want to meet with you now.

Kendra Lee is president of KLA Group, which works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment. Read more blogs from Kendra here.

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1 Comment

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    Joddey Hicks:

    Always great insight from you Kendra!

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