You Don’t Have to Like Prospecting, You Just Have to Do It

Bob absolutely detests cold calling, and when he is in a sales slump, like he is this month, he’ll do just about anything to avoid the phone. He’ll update his CRM with all the new phone numbers that he can remember. Picking the lint off his suit becomes a serious endeavor. Figuring out his commissions, then considering if he should make some sales beyond the normal price points, requires intense calculator work. Lunchtime starts at around 10:40 a.m. With luck, he’ll remember that one of his customers mentioned three months ago that she might know someone whom he should stop by and see. At last, someone to call. But, unfortunately, she is on vacation this week. Have to mark that one to call next week. Going through his CRM file of past “dead” prospects, he decides to sort them by when he saw them last. Then he’ll call the oldest ones, figuring that by now they probably want something. But, looking at the contacts, he realizes that not all of them have Date Of Last Contact filled in. “Damn, that won’t work,” he mutters to himself.  “I know what I can do,” he says to himself, feeling much better. “I’ll go find the sales manager and bug him about not having the latest product information sheets that were promised five weeks ago. I really need them today if I’m going to get anywhere.” Coming back to his desk an hour later, without any new product information sheets, he decides that now, since its 2:10 Wednesday afternoon, no one he calls will have any time for him. “I’ve got an appointment tomorrow morning at 10:45 so that kills tomorrow for cold calling,” he reasons. “I think I’ll spend the rest of the day preparing for that meeting. It is my first time into the company. I want to make a good impression.”

Bob has not accomplished any prospecting activity that will generate any future sales. In fact, as he sits there, his prospects are being cold-called by the competition. And if he contacts them some other day, only to find out they bought from the competition, will he see the point of “Why didn’t you cold call me?”

Unless you have a prospecting plan that is reasonable and doable, you will never do any serious prospecting. Instead, much like Bob, you will go from day to day “running into” prospects who might or might not buy your product.  Most salespeople decide to create a prospecting plan when they are in a sales slump. While a sales slump does provide motivation to do something, the psychological push to do something is based on the fear of failing. Fear is a lousy motivator because every act that the salesperson thinks of doing becomes tinged with the thought that it won’t work. “And since it won’t work,” thinks the salesperson in the slump, “why bother doing it? I’ll just fail.” The vicious circle of a sales slump, fear of failing, then thinking of things to do but coloring them as probable failures, leads to doing nothing productive.

Perhaps Bob’s preparation for tomorrow’s appointment will result in a sale. If it does, he will believe that when he is in a sales slump, the proper action to take is preparing for a future appointment.  What will Bob do when he does not have an appointment the following day?

There are many ways for salespeople to prospect. Cold calling on the phone, physically showing up unannounced, sending invitations to seminars, asking existing customers, “If you were me, who would you call?”—literally hundreds of ways. None of them will work unless the salesperson does them on a daily basis.  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