Sales and marketing

How to Avoid Sales Prospecting Malpractice


There is no excuse for stupid prospecting! Sadly, too many organizations are committed to prospecting malpractice.

David Brock, CEO, Partners in Excellence
Author: David Brock, CEO, Partners in Excellence

None of us can escape or have spam filters powerful enough to filter out the stupid, irrelevant prospecting that is inflicted on us on a daily basis. Our emails, phones, texts, social channels overflow with poorly designed and abysmally executed prospecting.

The only explanation for poorly targeted, irrelevant prospecting is that organizations simply don’t care or are too lazy to do their jobs. They don’t do their homework in segmenting and targeting, they don’t do their homework in understanding key personas, they don’t do their homework in creating relevant, high impact messages.

We know the following:

  1. Customers most interested in what we have to sell are those in our ideal customer profile (ICP).
  2. The further we get out of the ICP, the less effective/impactful we are.
  3. Customers are interested in relevant content, insights. They are interested in learning how they might improve and achieve their goals.
  4. Some level of personalization is critical in making sure we are engaging prospects with the greatest impact.
  5. We have to provide information relevant to their role and the circumstances they are facing.
  6. Customers will leverage multiple channels to learn about new solutions, so we have to be engaging the customer consistently across multiple channels.
  7. We know we have to engage prospects multiple times, building their understanding of the issues.
  8. Customers don’t care about our products, they care about their businesses and problems.

Use Tools to Effectively Target and Engage Prospects

But there’s more. There are countless tools that enable us to more effectively target and engage our prospects. Virtually every organization has marketing and sales automation tools to segment and improve their targeting. Analytic tools and web based services enable us to profile and understand both the enterprises and individuals we are targeting. Content management tools enable us to personalize and tailor communications, across many channels, that are relevant and higher impact.

So we know what to do, we know how to do it, and we have the tools and capabilities to do those things that engage customers in impactful ways.

Yet time after time, in initiative after initiatives, we fail to do the things we know we should be doing, we fail to leverage the tools we are paying for to improve our abilities to do these things.

It’s too easy to blame sales people or marketing people for these flawed practices. But it’s really top marketing and sales management that is to blame. They are providing the direction and “leadership” for these efforts. They aren’t paying attention to doing the things they know will produce results, instead looking for volume and velocity, creating endlessly more irrelevant communications.

This is nothing less than malpractice. This is the result of leaders who are choosing not to do the things they know they must do. They are the result of leaders who are paying for the most advanced technology platforms, yet aren’t using those platforms to achieve the results they could.

One might argue, that senior leaders may not be aware of these things, but this would mean they aren’t measuring results, they aren’t drilling into the data to understand why they aren’t achieving the results they should. They aren’t paying attention or they don’t care!

We Can - and Must - Do Better!

We can and must do better than this. Pragmatically, we are just making our jobs tougher, we get less from what we do, so we have to do more to get what we need (yes, the volume and velocity challenge). We spend more and more to produce less or stay even.

We are making it more difficult for ourselves by driving customers and prospects away. We are so irrelevant in our outreach or so bad in our executing our engagement strategies that customers not only ignore our efforts, they ignore our brands. They don’t want to talk to us because we have demonstrated our lack of caring and professionalism.

We are being irresponsible to our own companies. We are supposed to do the things which we know produce results, doing those things as efficiently and effectively as possible. Yet we choose to do what’s expedient, easy or what everyone else does.

We can do better, we must do better–for ourselves, our customers, and our companies.

David Brock is CEO at Partners in EXCELLENCE. Read more from Brock here.