The 6 Stages of New Business Prospecting

July 27, 2022

Selling is no easy task — no matter how effective your sales and marketing strategies may be. And when you ask most sales executives how to improve your numbers, you’ll often receive the most frustrating answer in return. “Just prospect more…” This is like telling an anxious person not to stress or asking a social media manager to make a post goes viral. While the intentions are good, there’s no clear new business strategy behind it.

Inevitably, even the greatest prospecting efforts will hit a roadblock, leading to a very real struggle. Like the seven stages of grief, sales professionals often find themselves fluctuating between these six frustrating feelings. Keep reading to help identify your current stage…

1)  Avoidance

avoidanceSales executives know when their teams avoid prospecting. They were probably experts at it themselves. Avoidance is troubling because it’s so easy to do. “Sorry, can’t prospect today. I have lunch with my favorite client… again.” To use a cliche, avoidance is just putting new business outreach “on the back burner.”

However, the problem arises when your sales pipeline never “heats up.” Ensure you have the tools and skills needed to sell your products or services like sales playbooks, call blueprints, battle cards, and a library of the best calls to emulate.

2)  Distraction

200 (6)Distraction is similar to avoidance, but far less purposeful. Instead of finding other work-related projects to occupy your time, this is when sales professionals avoid professional responsibilities altogether.

Experiment with time hacks such as the Pomodoro Technique. This is a time management system that encourages people to work with the time they have — rather than against it. Using this method, break your workday into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks. These intervals are referred to as pomodoros.

3)  Fear

snl gifMake a phone call and talk to someone new? Stop into a business unannounced? What kind of witchcraft is this? You may be fearful if you send more emails to avoid cold calls. It’s a common problem.

The first step to overcome fear is to stop making assumptions. For example, salespeople need to qualify prospects, but cold call is calling someone you do not know, so you can’t know what they’re thinking. Ask yourself, “Is this fear of rejection real or am I making it up?” If you can shift how you think about it, you can shift the behavior.

4)  Frustration

new business“If it was easy everyone would do it. Every great client started as a prospect. Frustration means you’re just getting close.” Frustration, like nerves, can either build you up or tear you down. Instead, choose how to proceed with these feelings. Acknowledge your emotions rather than ignoring them. “That’s frustrating,” is better than, “It’s not that bad.”

Remember that frustration in one area tends to bleed into others, so don’t let short-term setbacks dictate long-term decisions. The biggest danger here is becoming imbalanced. Instead, practice expressing optimism while acknowledging realities.

5)  Boredom

200 (3)We get it. Prospecting can be boring. We’ve all heard that whole “plant a seed” analogy. The trouble is that at times prospecting can feel eerily similar to watching grass grow, which is much more interesting when you use time-lapse photography. If you keep hitting a wall with research, boredom can quickly set in, and then you just end up getting distracted again.

Take advantage of downtime to acquire new knowledge and test new skills. Read a few business or sales books, delve into the latest research in your vertical, catch up on sales blogs (like ours!) – there’s no end of possibilities to consider here. A growing mindset is critical to long-term sales success.

6)  Anger

200 (5)We’ve all had that prospect that’s been carefully nurtured. They see the value of your solution and have finally made the decision to increase market share…by using your competition. That could keep you from prospecting for a day or two hundred.  Take a minute and do a self-analysis of the last time you had a confrontation with a prospect (or even came close). How did you handle it? What could you have done better?

Maybe you need to practice expressing your feelings instead of bottling them up or thinking before you speak. Remember how important comprise is in sales (and in life), focus on the positive, and don’t attempt to control the uncontrollable. Outside of work hours, set aside time to relax, exercise and eat well, and then, most importantly, learn to forgive yourself.




If you liked this blog post, check out:

  1. 4 Brands for Increasing Instagram Spending: Q2 2022
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  3. List of Agencies in the Omnicom Network


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