Sales and Sales Management Blog

June 6, 2008

Rachel’s Fixin’ to Prospect Issue Revisited

I received several emails about my post discussing Rachel’s prospecting issues from a couple of days ago. The basic message in each email was that the post was timely and the admonition was needed—but what did I recommend for Rachel?

Without going into all of the details of the recommendations I had for her, let me give three of the most basic recommendations I gave her.

But before I do that let me revisit one aspect of her issue—spending time preparing to prospect. Rachel’s problem is one well know to us Texans. In the vernacular of Texas, she had a “fixin’” problem. We Texans spend a great deal of time “fixin’ to”. We’re always fixin’ to do something. Ask a Texan what they’re doing and they’ll tell you they’re “fixin’ to prospect,” or “fixin’ to make a presentation,” or “fixin’ to eat,” or “fixin’ to take a shower.” We’re so involved with fixin’ you’d think we never actually do anything.

Rachel was always fixin’ to prospect and seldom actually engaged in prospecting. So the solution was to change her focus from fixin’ to doin’.

Rachel’s three primary new prospecting activities:

Calling. Her company’s primary prospecting method is cold calling. She had a list of several hundred names to call of which she had made contact with very few. Her first task each day is to speak with a minimum of 15 individuals. That in itself is a big task. She may have to make 100 to 150 dials to connect with and speak to 15 prospects. If she makes 20 dials an hour, she could be on the phone 5 to 7 hours a day.

Rachel loves to network, but she had been spending her time at networking events that by their very nature presented limited opportunities. She attended three or four networking events a month held by various local chambers and she also attended two networking breakfast groups. During her 8 months of selling, she had made contact with less than a dozen quality prospects and had acquired none as clients.

Her experience with networking events had paralleled that of most salespeople—there were very few quality prospects at the chamber events and those prospects that did attend were surrounded by her competitors. The networking breakfast events were as fruitless, as most of the other members of the groups were not in a position to meet her prime prospects since few sold products or services to her prime prospects.

Rachel was encouraged to change her networking focus from chambers and breakfast groups to organizations where a large number of prime prospects would gather—the associations of various industries. She is in the process of deciding whether to invest her time with the dentist, manufacturers, pr, or commercial real estate associations in town. She’ll eventually join and become active in two, possibly three of these organizations.

Speaking. Rachel has developed a presentation about financial independence for women and is beginning to book presentations at various business, industry and women’s organizations in town. The presentation is educational, not a sales pitch. Her goals are modest—get in front of and meet as many potential prospects as possible. To date she has only given three presentations, but has already begun developing relationships with more than a half dozen quality prospects—more than she would have met in a month when she spent her time fixin’ to prospect.

Although Rachel and I have been working together for only three weeks or so, she has already tripled her monthly average of new prospect contacts. Her secret new weapon? She isn’t fixin’ to do anything any more—she’s actually doin’ prospecting now. Most of her day is spent on the phone, her networking and speaking is done either before or after working hours or during lunch—works great because they don’t interfere with her phone work.

Three weeks isn’t long enough to know whether she’ll have the discipline to continue with her new focus or whether she’ll be able to convert her prospects into clients, but she now has a real shot at success simply because she went from fixin’ to do something productive to doing productive activities.



  1. Paul, great post. If I may be so bold as to jump into the fray with some suggestions for Rachel as well. She has to have a methodology for cold calling. We outline one on our Inside Sales Experts blog and it is our number one post. You can find it here

    Also, when she does get those prospects on the phone, she needs a great elevator pitch. Simple instructions on how to build one are here

    Rachel is lucky to have a coach. You go girl!

    Comment by trish bertuzzi — June 6, 2008 @ 10:17 am | Reply

  2. Paul – your paragraph on networking is one of the most succinct yet accurate descriptions I’ve seen of the pitfalls of networking. Many people find it very seductive and much easier that having to directly contact real prospects – either by referrals or cold. But in reality most struggle to generate any real sales from the “easy” networking opportunities.


    Comment by Ian Brodie — June 6, 2008 @ 12:18 pm | Reply

  3. Trish,

    Thanks for jumping in. I’ve passed the links along to her–and have read the posts myself and they’re very good.

    One of the great things about the internet and blogs is that a great deal of information can be exchanged very efficiently. Although there are many, many great sales trainers and coaches, none know everything and none are experts in all aspects of sales and sales management (although unfortunately, far too many make that claim), so having an effective way to exchange ideas, strategies, and techniques has really changed the face of sales training and will continue to do so as technology becomes more efficient and more pervasive.

    Again, thanks for the input–and by all means, feel free to jump in at any time.

    And Ian, thanks for the compliment. I find the seduction of networking to be one of the demons of sales. Not that networking is itself a demon, but the ‘easy,’ obvious, no brainer networking that so many engage in is so often a false hope that leads to a great deal of pain and frustration.


    Comment by Paul McCord — June 7, 2008 @ 6:54 am | Reply

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