When it comes to sales prospecting and sales networking, imagine there is no marketing department.
In uncertain times, you must double down on what’s within your control. Selling is no exception. Every accomplished sales professional I’ve ever met operates as a self-contained selling machine in good times and in tough times. That’s not to say they don’t work well with others—they do. But they don’t ever allow their success to hinge on the work (and the budgets) of others. They’re skilled risk mitigators, which means they rely on themselves—no matter the market conditions.
That way of thinking is crucial when prospecting. While top sellers welcome the warm leads produced by their marketing department, they treat those as bonus opportunities. Instead, they self-source and are self-sufficient.
As my friend Jason Bay points out while drawing from recent Salesloft data, sales pros self-source up to 70% of their leads: particularly those that become the largest-sized deals. That way, their quarterly and annual success remains immune from any slowdown or budget cutting exercise in marketing or in other parts of the business. He predicts more of that in 2023 and he’s right.
Here’s how you do this so that your pipeline always remains full and completely within your control—no matter what the next year has in store.
Sales Prospecting and Networking: 4 Strategies to Ensure Your Pipeline Always Remains Full
1. Always Have Redundancies
As I like to remind: one is a dangerous number in sales. If your continued success hinges on just one client, one contract, one line of communication, or one process for converting a lead into a deal, you’re on thin ice. You must always have built-in redundancies so that you’re never rendered fragile by a single-point of failure. This entails more than just treating the marketing department’s prospects as gravy on the meat and potatoes you’ve earned on your own. It also means having multiple sources of leads, networking opportunities, and points of contact within every account…and that takes me to my next point.
2. Always Be Networking
In this market, you cannot afford to be relying solely on your existing network for future sales. Networking is a two-track activity in sales. First, you must foster and maintain the valuable connections you already have. But second, as I cover in my book, Right on the Money, you must always be building Critical Mass Influence. That means having more meaningful conversations with more prospects across more channels online. Networks are meant for growing. That’s where their true value is found.
3. Always Be Asking
The most obvious solutions are often the ones that people overlook. And this is one that comes up predictably in every marketplace and in every market condition: far too many sellers simply don’t ask for new business from their existing customers. Don’t make that mistake. Draw up a list of your existing accounts. Call each one and ask them for external referrals from supplier, partners, and colleagues. People who do business with you want to help you succeed. But you must ask them for that help first. It’s that simple.
4. Always Be Building
Lastly, your work as a self-contained selling machine means you must work consistently on building your contacts within each account. Never leave yourself vulnerable to a staff change, a downsizing exercise, or an unexpected early-retirement decision—all of which could happen if your selling method depends on a single point of contact. Build out. Leverage your efforts at asking for new contacts so that you discover new people who work in other departments within your customer’s organization.
When you emulate the best business habits of top sellers—and that includes selling as though there is no marketing department—you quickly learn there is no downside to working this way. At bare minimum, by embracing this approach you prove to yourself and to your organization that you’re indispensable because you don’t rely on anyone or anything else to consistently produce great results. And that’s an outcome on which great careers are built!