Prospecting: You Don’t Have to Like It. You Just Have to Do It.

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Thus far, we have discussed what a professional salesperson needs to do to have success when in a sales call.  However, there is no sales call unless the prospect extends an invitation to the salesperson to have one.  Now it is time to discuss how the salesperson gets invited in to sell the prospect.  This is called prospecting and I can say from experience, both from clients and from my own, this is the least fun, most difficult and most procrastinated activity salespeople will do in their job.  It is okay if you don’t like to prospect.  In fact it is normal not to enjoy prospecting.  You just have to do it regardless.

Keep in mind that the goal of prospecting is to get the appointment.  For the best success, you should not sell during a prospecting call.  I will give you some suggestions that can make the phone a lot lighter when your prospecting time arrives.  Just as in the Sandler Selling system, you want to have a process that you follow each time a call is made.  Below are some simple steps to get you started writing your own prospecting script:

1. PATTERN INTERRUPT – How do you treat the solicitor that calls you on the phone?  And if you sound like a solicitor, then you will be treated the same way . . . “Click!”  Start off by stating your name, and then being disarmingly honest about why you are making the call.  It might sound like this:  “Hello, this is Karl Schaphorst.  Look, this is a cold call and I am not very good at this.  Do you want to hang up now?”  That is a pattern interrupt and at this moment, you no longer look like a solicitor and the prospect takes your call . . . every time.

2. SET A MINI-CONTRACT – Remember, now is not the time to start selling.  Rather, let your words be few and simply ask for permission to give a short, 30 second commercial that effectively explains how you provide value to customers.  Take it a step further by giving the prospect permission to hang up on you if it appears to be a waste of their time.  By the way, they never hang up.

3. 30 SECOND COMMERCIAL – You need to write a commercial that you can speak in 30 seconds or less.  Identify the three biggest features/benefits your current customers would claim as reasons for doing business with you.  Then surround them with negative, emotional trigger words such as ‘frustrated,’ ‘struggled,’ or ‘worried.’  Part of you commercial might sound like “Some business owners hired me because they were frustrated by eroding margins due to their salespeople selling on price rather than the value that their solution truly brought to their customers.”

4. STRIP LINE – This is a fishing term used to describe the action which is opposite of what the prospect would expect.  Since most prospecting calls end in “No,” you take it to “No” first.  This will completely remove all the pressure the prospect would otherwise experience in agreeing to set an appointment with you.  It might sound like this: “I don’t suppose anything I just mentioned would give cause for a further discussion, would it?”

5. SET THE HOOK – If the prospect doesn’t end the call and starts talking to you, now is the time to set the hook.  Simply ask three questions: 1) Tell me more.  2) Give me an example.  3) And this impacts you how?

6. SET THE APPOINTMENT – Tell the prospect to get their calendar out and find a time to invite you in.  Be authoritative here and you will be surprised at how submissive the prospect becomes.
Now, using the steps listed above, write your prospecting script out word for word.  Having this script greatly reduces the reluctance you would otherwise have in making prospecting calls.  If you want more help with prospecting, Sandler Training will be holding a Prospecting Seminar on September 16th that will dive much deeper into the behavior and technique behind effective prospecting.  Remember, you don’t have to like prospecting; you just have to do it!

Sandler Training is a global training organization with over three decades of experience and proven results. Sandler provides sales and management training and consulting services for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as well as corporate training for Fortune 1000 companies.  For more information, please contact Karl Schaphorst at (402) 403-4334 or by email at  You can also follow his blog at



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