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For Prospecting, Put in the Effort, or Don’t Bother

by Hank Barnes  |  July 14, 2015  |  1 Comment

Recently, Dave Brock published an excellent post about the negative impact the measuring activities can have on business performance.  It is the outcomes that matter.   Does it matter if you make 50 calls (activities) if they were made to prospects that don’t fit your ideal customer profile?   Or if none of those were interested in additional discussions?  What if you only made 10 calls, but 5 of them were interested in a continued dialogue?  Which is more effective?

The focus on activity counts can make many otherwise smart people look really really stupid.  The most obvious way this shows itself is in e-mails that fake personalization (which I’ve blogged about before).    You would think with tools like LinkedIn, the volume of these bad emails–and I don’t care if they originate from sales or marketing—would be decreasing, but I’m finding the opposite is happening.   I’ve take to posting bad examples on Fridays on my LinkedIn account, using a #FridayFails hastag.  My hope—get people to stop making themselves look stupid (they usually aren’t) as they work to fill their activity quotas.


I know there are times when you are sending e-mails to a lot of people at once (e-mail marketing can still be effective).  But if you do it, don’t put words in that imply a level of personalization or preparation that does not exist.  Don’t say, “I looked at your Website and can see you need localization services” (I don’t have a Web site).   Don’t say “I’m here to help you with outsourcing” (I don’t do it).

Buying is situational.    When you reach out to a buyer with a supposedly personal message, make it personal  Show you care and did some prep.   Google me (or whoever you are mailing).  Look us up on LinkedIn.  You can find great stuff there.  Give a reason to care.

If you just did one additional thing to make a supposedly personal e-mail relevant to the reader, your success will grow.  For example, an opening like  “Hank, “I read you latest #FridayFails post and promise that this email won’t appear next week.” would catch my attention positively.

If you can’t take the time to do some prep work, make one of two choices:

1. Don’t send the e-mail

2. Don’t personalize the e-mail.

Anything else is a waste of time.  Your time, your prospect’s time.  Your management’s time (“I sent 50 e-mails today”).  Wasting time is a great way to alienate buyers.

It’s much easier to prepare than ever before.  Do it.  Or look for your e-mails in my #FridayFails posts.

For leaders, it is important to make sure your people are driving toward results, but focus more on outcomes.  Guide them toward the activities that can generate the outcomes, but don’t dictate activities.

I dont’ think people are stupid.   I think everyone tries.  But sometimes we forget due to stress, pressures or other reasons.   Think about your prospect when you are in those situations.  What little things can you do to make them care (in a positive wave).   It’s really not that hard.  It won’t always result in a prospect or a sale (immediately), but it will probably get more positive attention and may open the door for future opportunity.





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Category: future-of-sales  go-to-market  

Tags: email-marketing  prospecting  social-selling  

Hank Barnes
VP Distinguished Analyst
6+ years at Gartner
30+ years IT Industry

Hank Barnes explores the dynamics, challenges, and frustrations enterprises face when buying technology products and services. Using that customer-centric lens, he advises those responsible for marketing technology products and services, general managers responsible for product portfolios, and startup CEOs on next practices to drive success for their customers and their business. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on For Prospecting, Put in the Effort, or Don’t Bother

  1. Dave Brock says:

    Hank: I’m astounded by the numbers of people, backed by managers, wasting 10’s of thousands of hours with poorly conceived and executed prospecting attempts.

    A little up front work, a more focused, value based approach creates great results.

    Thanks for the great post and shout out.

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