John's territory involves working with many prospects that ask for samples, demonstrations, proposals, references and all the usual items that buyers want from a vendor. Trying to appear accommodating and professional, John finds himself spending hours of time preparing, writing, setting up or sending all this information that he believes will help "convince" his prospect. Everyone appears very impressed with what John shows them, except it seems like they don't act on all that "interest" often enough. Although his results are okay, he cannot understand why all this activity is not leading to more orders.
Prospecting is the lifeblood of sales success. Most people that have made it past their first 12-24 months of sales realize this basic fact. Without prospecting there is no selling to be done, period. When you haven’t got a prospect to talk to you are dead in the water, maybe staring at the phone hoping it will ring or working to craft the silver bullet email blast that generates tons of inquiries. In my 40 plus years of selling I haven’t seen either of those strategies produce consistent results for anyone. But I have seen some people that are committed prospectors make one mistake over and over, failing to realize that prospecting and selling are distinctly different parts of a successful business development process.