Complex Selling Q & A: High-Profit Prospecting with Mark Hunter and John Dougan

There’s no question that sales prospecting (especially for complex, high-stakes sales) has changed dramatically over the past decade. But there’s also a boatload of misinformation that can lead sales and business development pros down the wrong path.

To set the record straight on what works and what doesn’t in the new age of selling, we turned to two of the foremost sales prospecting experts we know: Mark Hunter and John Dougan.

Introhive: Mark, you literally wrote the book on high-profit prospecting. In your experience, what separates the organizations that succeed with high-profit prospecting?

Mark Hunter: The organizations that do the best with prospecting are the ones where prospecting is part of their culture, meaning it’s part of the daily routine performed by all salespeople and leaders. More than anything else this is the key difference that separates the great companies from average.

Introhive: Okay, yeah – makes sense that the only way to create this type of culture is for leadership to actually get involved with sales prospecting and business development. What else makes companies successful in this area?

Mark Hunter: Once an organization has it in their culture to prospect and the sales team is focused on doing it, the key then becomes having a clearly defined prospecting strategy that encompasses a defined number of touches, tight messaging and discipline to follow through.

Introhive: Interesting, why a defined number of touches?

Mark Hunter: Far too many sales are lost because the salesperson gives up after the 1st, 2nd or 3rd contact. The most successful salespeople accept the reality their best sales may only come after the 7th, 10th or even 15th touch.

Introhive: Sure, you can’t expect to close a complex, high-stakes sale without using intelligence to develop relationships. How else do companies limit their profitability potential?

Mark Hunter: Too many companies rely on existing business and/or solely on creating enough marketing buzz to get the phone to ring. The end result is a failure to achieve business plans.

Introhive: Excellent stuff, Mark, thank you!

Introhive: John, what commonalities are you seeing among organizations that succeed with high-profit prospecting?

John Dougan: Organizations that take the time to credibly reach out to the right prospects over a sustained period of time using multiple channels are the ones who will be most successful. That means that each interaction comes with a customer or prospect focused outcome and an organizational purpose, beyond simply profit.

Introhive: You’ve helped a lot of organizations tackle this very problem. What, specifically, are you seeing that works?

John Dougan: I actively encourage organizations to embrace social and inbound marketing but alone these communication channels don’t work, there is still huge value in using the telephone effectively.

Introhive: Telephone, huh? There is no shortage of “experts” who have written off the phone, yet experienced pros like you and Mark are still seeing incredible value for companies that know the nuances behind each medium and tactic. What else should our readers know about?

John Dougan: From the 100’s of sales capability assessments I have done, it’s those that have influencing skills and an understanding of what they can do for their customers or prospects (identified as right profile) that prevail. In each interaction (whatever communication channel) ask this: “Am I actually adding value to this individual by communicating with them now and is the focus of my communication on exactly that?”

Introhive: That’s fantastic advice – thanks John!

Thank you once again to Mark Hunter and John Dougan for taking the time to share their sales prospecting wisdom. We greatly appreciate it.

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