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Top Sales Prospecting Challenges

blog author
Written by Mike Schultz
President, RAIN Group

Challenges abound when it comes to sales prospecting. From targeting and using the right outreach methods to maintaining motivation and energy, there are plenty of ways to outbound prospect and fail.

Download: 5 Sales Prospecting Myths Debunked

For our Top Performance in Sales Prospecting research, we asked 489 sellers who outbound prospect about the biggest prospecting issues they face. The top 10 prospecting challenges can be grouped into 4 categories:

  • Lack of prospecting motivation

    • Don't dedicate enough time or energy to prospecting: 66%
  • Poor targeting

    • Don't know how to work with gatekeepers: 48%
    • Try to connect with people too low in the target organization: 43%
    • Don't target the right people: 41%
  • Insufficient outreach/giving up too early

    • Don't touch prospects often enough to connect: 56%
    • Give up too easily: 51%
    • Don't use a variety of media (e.g., email, LinkedIn, phone) for outreach: 49%
    • Don't use the phone enough for outreach: 42%
  • Lack of research and customization

    • Don't research prospects sufficiently before reaching out: 42%
    • Don't customize messages for each prospect: 41%

Lack of Prospecting Motivation

Of all the prospecting challenges companies face, keeping sellers motivated rises to the top of the list. Two-thirds of organizations rate this as a top challenge. Motivation is a challenge in most organizations, and prospecting is often one of the greatest motivational challenges. It's critical to increase motivation to execute prospecting successfully.

Top Performers in Sales Prospecting—those with more target list conversions, quality outcomes achieved, and overall prospecting success—are much more likely to have a positive attitude about prospecting.

Top Performance in Sales Prospecting

Prospecting success starts with motivation. If your sellers aren't motivated to prospect and don't enjoy prospecting (at least to some extent), it doesn't matter if you do everything else right, your results will suffer.

Poor Targeting

Targeting is another top challenge. 41% of prospectors don't target the right people and 43% target too low in the organization.

If you're not targeting the right people, your messages aren't going to resonate. Even if you do get a meeting, it's unlikely to convert to a sale.

It's much easier to target high in an organization and work your way down than it is to start low and work up. A great strategy is working with gatekeepers to find the right person. Calling on the C-level and getting a referral from them or their executive assistant can help you not only find the right person, but also gives you that all-powerful referral.

Yet, 48% of sellers struggle to work with gatekeepers in a productive way. Don't view gatekeepers as an obstacle to get around; work with them for the best success.

Read: How to Fill Your Sales Pipeline

Insufficient Outreach/Giving Up Too Early

Many of the top challenges relate to sellers' outreach efforts. Sellers:

  • Often give up too easily
  • Don't touch prospects often enough
  • Don't use a variety of media
  • Don't use the phone enough

It takes an average of 8 touches to secure an initial meeting with a new prospect. It also takes multiple kinds of media to break through and get attention. Sellers at top-performing organizations run attraction campaigns that include phone, email, direct mail, voicemail, social media, and other ways to reach out to buyers.

An attraction campaign is a coordinated effort with different offers over time. Don't expect to pick up the phone, leave one voicemail, and send one follow-up email. It takes a lot more to break through.

Lack of Research and Customization

One thing buyers hate is uncustomized spam! It's no wonder sellers tell us it doesn't work, and yet they continue sending it.

So what does work? Customized messages and offers.

67% of buyers say, "content 100% customized to our specific situation" strongly influences whether or not they will accept a meeting or connect with a seller. If you're selling to the C-suite, it’s even more influential. 75% of C-level and VP-level buyers are influenced by content customized for them.

Only 17% of the organizations we surveyed have reached Top Performer status, so there's a lot to be done to overcome these prospecting challenges. Knowing that 82% of buyers say they accept meetings with sellers who reach out to them, the ball is in your court. Will you join the Top Performers who experience sales prospecting success?

RECOMMENDED READING >> 50 Powerful Sales Questions


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Topics: Sales Research Sales Prospecting