Author Name: Jeb Blount
Author Bio: Jeb Blount is the bestselling author of ten books and among the world’s most respected thought leaders on sales, leadership, and customer experience. He transforms organizations by optimizing talent, leveraging training to cultivate a high-performance sales culture, developing leadership and coaching skills, and applying more effective organizational design.
Chapter 1: The case for prospecting
- The fastest way for a salesperson to achieve targets is by prospecting.
- Most salespeople have the hunger to succeed and know how to manage the sales process, ask great questions, deliver winning presentations, and close the deal.
- The only difference is in “Prospecting”. The best salespeople are obsessive about keeping their pipelines full of qualified leads.
Chapter 2: Seven mindsets of fanatical prospectors
- In sales, there is always something to complain about. There are obstacles, roadblocks, bad managers, rude prospects, product and service challenges, and changes to the commission plan.
- Successful salespeople have these 7 mindsets that set them up for success:
Chapter 3: To cold call or not to cold call
- Most arguments given against outbound calls are excuses to not do that.
- The biggest and most lucrative accounts rarely respond to inbound marketing efforts. They already have a long line of salespeople knocking on their door.
- If we want sustained sales success, then we have to interrupt the prospects. This is a proven way to start a conversation with them.
Chapter 4: Adopt a balanced prospecting methodology
The foundation of any prospecting strategy is balance.
- There isn’t one size fits all. Every territory, industry, product, service, and prospect base responds to different prospecting strategies differently.
Chapter 5: The more you prospect, the luckier you get
- Top salespeople spend 80% time on prospecting and qualification.
Three laws of prospecting
- Universal law of need: Don’t focus on a handful of accounts for your success. Other people can also sense your desperation in your actions, tone of voice, words and body language. Prospects naturally repel salespeople who are needy.
- 30-day rule: Prospecting you do in the 30-day period will pay off 90 days later.
- Law of replacement: Constantly push for new opportunities to replace those who are not converting.
Success in sales is a simple equation of daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual prospecting activity. The more we prospect, the luckier we get.
Chapter 6: Know your numbers — manage your ratio
- Sales is and will always be governed by numbers. We need to track everything — from prospects to qualified to sales.
- Once we track everything, we can look at both effectiveness (how much activity) and efficiency (outcome of those activities) of our sales process.
The entire sales process can make us delusional. We might think that we have achieved enough even when we haven’t undertaken much activity. The numbers keep us grounded in reality.
Different variables that can impact the sales process:
We need to measure the impact of each of these variables and constantly iterate on our approach.
Chapter 7: The three Ps that are holding you back
- We delude ourselves into believing that all prospecting can be done in 1 day. This delusion is the #1 cause of procrastination and leads to failure.
- Best way is to prospect every day.
- It is highly correlated with the fear of failure and self-defeating behavior, such as excessive protectionism.
- Messy success is better than perfect mediocrity. Doing research and being prepared is good but not at the cost of shielding you from potential rejection.
- It’s when salespeople get into a “what if” zone.
Best way to get around is to start by making the first call and then the next and then the next. We abhor the unknown and the best way to overcome is to jump into it.
Chapter 8: Time: The great equalizer of sales
- A salesperson’s day is usually filled with the following tasks: Create proposals, get the contracts approved, maintain CRM, attend meetings, etc.
- A salesperson should dedicate time blocks for specific activities:
Prioritization and saying “no” are indispensable to achieve sales targets. A best practice is to delegate unimportant tasks.
Delegation best practices
- Trust people and communicate effectively.
- Make sure everyone knows what they are doing and have a map to get there.
- Once you have delegated, follow-up consistently.
- Invest in building a relationship with the support staff.
Chapter 9: Four objectives of prospecting
There should be a defined objective for each prospecting effort and every prospecting effort should build on the previous one to bridge the prospect’s problem and our solution.
- Set an appointment, i.e. get a commitment on time on both ours’ and the prospect’s calendar.
- Gather information and qualify: Focus on the right deals: Profitable, qualified, in the buying window, having a budget and a defined decision maker and having the ability to buy.
Note: We should proceed with the appointment if the product/service is non-contractual, there is no budgetary period and the decision-maker is fairly consistent.
3. Close a sale: Identify trigger points, uncover buying roles, engage the buyer and strike at the optimal time.
4. Build familiarity: It requires a long-term focus and is improved through the cumulative impact of ongoing prospecting activity.
Prospecting objectives are different for different industries and solution areas
It is important to keep prospecting straight and simple: Don’t build relationships. Just build familiarity and when it makes sense, move into the sales process.
Chapter 10: Leveraging the prospecting pyramid
Our goal should be to close sales. Look at your prospect list as a pyramid. Start the day with highly qualified prospects and then move to the others.
Chapter 11: Own your database: Why the CRM is your most important sales tool
CRM is the most important tool in our arsenal
- Manages everything without us having to remember anything
- Keeps us organized and ensures that there are not any derailed efforts
- Allows segmentation and sorting
- Helps in systematic prospect qualification
Own your CRM like a CEO
- Be accountable for maintaining the database integrity
- Update it regularly and not when your manager asks you to do
- Record notes after every call
- Put new leads in the system rather than storing cards
- Take time to learn it through online learning tools
Chapter 12: The law of familiarity
Familiarity leads to better engagement across all channels. It makes the prospect’s decision to give us their time feel less risky.
Crossing the familiarity threshold requires time, intellect, emotion, energy, and technology.
Five levers of familiarity
Chapter 13: Social selling
Social selling helps in 2 ways
- Gives information into prospects’ behavior, desires, preferences, and triggers that drive buying behavior and open buying windows.
- Gives the ability to easily and economically build familiarity through low impact, non-intrusive techniques.
Social prospecting framework
Social selling is not a panacea but when combined with other approaches, it can enhance, elevate and sometimes accelerate your prospecting efforts.
- It is important to understand that unlike on e-mail, prospects do not expect to be sold on social media. Instead, they seek connections and valuable resources.
- Thus, the best approach is to connect with prospects on social media once you have engaged with them on some other channel.
Chapter 14: Message matters
Words and how you use those words can either increase the severity of the rejection or reduce resistance and break down emotional walls.
What you say
- Define prospecting objective: Get more information / set-up initial meeting / introduction to another person
- Focus on what’s in it for them: Prospects don’t give time for feature bundles or marketing brochures. They are seeking emotional value, insight value or tangible value.
- Be straight to the point: You have mere seconds to influence them.
- Be clear and direct about what you want from them.
- Focus on emotions in your value proposition: Frustration, anxiety, stress, fear, greed, and peace of mind.
- Sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and words in written communication matter.
- Assume you’ll get what you want: It shows in our confidence and makes our message more compelling.
How you say
Delivery matters: If prospect senses fear, weakness or lack of confidence, they will shut down or bulldoze right over us.
A relaxed, confident demeanor opens doors
Best practices to maintain a confident demeanor:
- Remember that a no wouldn’t kill you.
- Practice managing your internal self-talk and outward physical reaction to that fear.
- Ask what you want and shut-up for the prospect to reply.
- Your only objectives should be: Get to yes fast, get to no fast or get to maybe fast.
Chapter 15: Telephone prospecting excellence
Tele-prospecting works because:
- Phones are anchored to people, not desks.
- No one is calling because communication is shifting to other channels.
- Prospects are getting burned out on impersonal, irrelevant prospecting emails.
Many salespeople find it awkward because:
- They don’t know what to say. This generates resistance.
- They don’t have an easy to execute telephone prospecting process.
- They don’t know how to deal with objections
- They are afraid of rejection.
The ultimate key to success is the scheduling phone block. Don’t take a pause. As soon as you do it, you are wasting time and then getting delusional.
- Get their attention — Start by their name and provide a relevant context (Don’t ask how are you doing.
- Identify yourself
- Tell them what they want and give them a because by establishing credibility.
- Ask for what you want and shut up.
Chapter 16: Turning around reflex responses, brush-offs, and objections
Telephone prospecting is abhorred due to its uncertain nature and the fear of failure. This fear is accentuated the moment we get a reflect response, brush-off, or objection.
- Reflex responses: Responses that we give impulsively to evade interruptions by salespeople. Examples — “We are not interested”, “We are all set”, “I am busy”, etc.
- Brush-offs: Responses to avoid confrontation with salespeople. Examples — “Get back to me in a month”, “Call me later”, etc.
- Objections: Logical rebuttals to salespeople’s request.
3-step turnaround framework
Don’t overcome the prospects and make them feel they are wrong. This is why they brush us off and have reflex responses. Instead, win without causing any injury.
- Anchor: Rejections cause disruptive emotions in the brain. We need to quickly change that thought by holding on to a piece of information that kicks the logical brain back into believing that there is no danger.
- Disrupt: Make a statement that disrupts your prospects’ expectations from salespeople. Don’t argue with them. Instead, agree with them.
When the horse is dead, dismount. It’s important that we understand the difference between the prospect rejecting us and the prospect rejecting our proposal.
Chapter 17: The secret lives of gatekeepers
There are no secret techniques that will get you past gatekeepers.
Seven ways of dealing with gatekeepers
- Be likeable
- Use “please” twice
- Be transparent about yourself and your intentions
- Connect with them on a personal level
- Don’t use cheesy schemes and tricks
- Ask for help and if possible, sprinkle some humor.
Some hacks for gathering information and reaching out to the right person
- Call someone else’s extension and gather information from them.
- Get info from the salespeople. They will empathize with you.
- Go around back and check with staff in loading and offloading, etc.
Chapter 18: In-person prospecting (IPP)
Works best for: B2B salespeople who work in a specific territory and sell transactional to semi-complex products and services primarily to SMBs.
Of all the prospecting methods, this is the least efficient one.
Yet people do it because of the following reasons
- A false belief that driving aimlessly in their territory is somehow working
- Managers believe the only good salesperson is that which cannot be seen
- Overcoming the fear of getting on the phone
5 step hub and spoke system
- Plan IPPs and preset appointments
- Leverage your CRM and develop a list of prospects close by.
- Plot 3–4 prospects on a map around your preset appointments
- Develop the most efficient driving routine
- Give yourself time between appointments
Steps to plan for a preset IPP
- Personalize your approach
- Develop an objective for every call
- Be prepared to close
- Log calls, notes and set follow-up tasks in your CRM
Always be on the lookout for other opportunities. Walk through the doors and gather information. Be acutely aware of the surroundings and see how can you qualify your prospects.
Chapter 19: E-mail prospecting
Create your e-mails post golden hours and schedule them to go when you are making the calls.
Three cardinal rules of e-mails:
Rule number 1: Your e-mails must get delivered
- Don’t send bulk e-mail
- Avoid attaching images
- Avoid hyperlinks: If at all you are including it, write the full link for transparency.
- Avoid attachments
- Skip spammy words and phrases
- Don’t send to many people in the same company at one time
- Don’t send too many emails to the same person
- Scrub bounces
- Be careful with sensitive industries
Rule number 2: Your e-mail must get opened
- Familiarity gets your e-mails opened: Leveraging phone and social channels before sending an e-mail increases their chances of getting opened. Layer of channel to build familiarity is extremely powerful. It’s important to plan your touches.
- Subject line should be optimized to open: Short and personalized
Rule number 3: Your e-mail must convert
- Developing and crafting prospecting e-mails takes a significant investment of time.
- Personalize with respect to industry verticals, markets, and decision- maker roles.
Four elements of a great e-mail
- Hook: Compelling subject line
- Relate: Show empathy and authenticity
- Bridge: Show them what’s in it for them
- Ask: Be clear and straightforward
It’s important to continuously measure your metrics (open rates, click rates, conversion rates) and optimize your approach.
E-mail list building tools: eGrabber’s E-mail prospector, Toofr, Prospect Ace, Voila Norbert etc.
Chapter 20: Text messaging
It is a powerful sales channel due to its personal nature. Texting works once you have established familiarity with the prospect.
Text messaging use-cases
- Setting appointments after trigger events: Face to face interactions at networking events, trade shows, conferences and other situations where you’ve had positive interactions with people.
- Prospect nurturing by regularly sharing educational articles.
Chapter 21: Developing mental toughness
Most people don’t last much in sales as they are so afraid of rejection. Thus, salespeople need to have elite athlete’s level mental toughness.
7 core dimensions of mental toughness
4 pillars for achieving mental toughness
- Desire to achieve: It’s the spark, the desire to earn more. Define what you want and write it down. If you don’t have a plan, you will have to follow someone else’s.
- Mental resilience: Constantly invest in yourself to increase knowledge, gain insight and sharpen skills.
- Outlearn = Outearn: Be voracious about content consumption
- Physical resilience
There is no time for complacency. Always be in the attack mode. Create new goals and new challenges.
Chapter 22: Eleven words that changed my life
When it’s time to go home, make one more call.
Chapter 23: The only question that matters
How badly do you want it?
What are your thoughts on the book? Please share below or e-mail me at email@example.com.